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VPA professor explores relationship between 10 classic horror films and American culture in new book
VPA professor explores relationship between 10 classic horror films and American culture in new bookMay 25, 2005Jaime Winne Alvarez email@example.com
In his new book, “Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture,” (Praeger, 2005) Kendall Phillips, associate professor of communication and rhetorical studies in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, explores the relationship between 10 classic horror films and the cultures they reflect.
“Horror is one of the most dissected genres in film because it continues to evolve,” says Phillips. “Every time we think it’s dead, the genre reinvents itself with a new twist that draws audiences back in.”
Selecting some of the most popular and influential horror films to date, Phillips offers a new approach to exploring the public’s attraction to horror films and the ways in which the pictures reflect cultural and individual fears.
“This is a book about those horror films that made such a lasting impression on American culture that they became instantly recognizable and redefined the notion of what a horror film is,” says Phillips.
In his estimation, there are 10 films that can be thought of as having this kind of connection to American culture: “Dracula” (1931), “The Thing From Another World” (1951), “Psycho” (1960), “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “The Exorcist” (1973), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), “Halloween” (1978), “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “Scream” (1996) and “The Sixth Sense” (1999.)
By tracing production history, contemporary audience response and the lasting cultural influences of each film, Phillips tries to dissect why moviegoers are drawn in. The book is a challenging and insightful read for horror film fans, film buffs, moviemakers and scholars.
“Even the writers and directors of these classics stand to be enlightened by learning of the impact, scope and significance of their realized concepts, ” says John Graves, professor emeritus of mass communication at Central Missouri State University, who worked in Hollywood and was executive producer of the classic horror film, “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”
Phillips’ research and teaching interests are in contemporary rhetorical theory and criticism. His work engages broad theoretical questions of advocacy, controversy, dissent and public memory. He is an expert on rhetoric, public discourse and rhetoric of popular culture. He explores these concepts through a variety of rhetorical artifacts, including comic books, film, political speeches and scientific controversies. Phillips authored “Testing Controversies: A Rhetoric of Educational Reform” (Hampton Press, 2004) and edited “Framing Public Memory” (University of Alabama Press, 2004). His essays and reviews have appeared in the journals “Literature/Film Quarterly” and “Philosophy and Rhetoric.”