Imagining the End of the World

A Biocultural Analysis of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Series:

Mathias Clasen

Abstract

Post-apocalyptic fiction taps into the deepest springs of ancient and evolved emotions, but it found in modernity a particularly hospitable cultural ecology and a particularly receptive audience. Focusing on post-apocalyptic English language science fiction and horror literature of the Cold War era, I argue that a biocultural analytical framework is indispensable to making sense of this type of fiction. Post-apocalyptic stories function as a mental testing-ground where readers can cognitively and emotionally model the experience of living through the worst, and the genre prompts readers to reflect on the meaning of an existence that is always subject to radical change.

Series:

Mathias Clasen and Todd K. Platts

Abstract

The slasher film, which depicts teenagers stalked by homicidal maniacs, has been experiencing waves of intense popularity since the late 1970s. In explaining the paradoxical appeal of such films, we argue that an integrative analytical framework is required. Such a framework pays attention to the evolved psychological dispositions brought into play by slasher films, to the sociocultural context that such films may reflect, and to the film-industrial factors that make such films particularly attractive from a production point of view. We discuss the entire history of modern slasher films but take John Carpenter’s famous slasher Halloween (1978) as out analytical focus. Our claim is that a multi-level analytical framework guided by biocultural theory is necessary to making sense of the slasher film.