Faculty Spotlight: Alison Landsberg Gives a Keynote Speech in Norway

Faculty Spotlight: Alison Landsberg Gives a Keynote Speech in Norway

Prof. Alison Landsberg gave a keynote speech entitled, "Horror Vérité: Politics and History in Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017)” at the "Fiction and Facts in Narratives of Political Conflict" conference at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway, 8-10 March.

Please find below a brief summary of Prof. Landsberg's speech:

The talk proposes that certain cinematic conventions of the horror film—a specific set of formal and narrative strategies—are uniquely suited to bring into visibility every-day, endemic and chronic horror—a horror that many in US society do not, or perhaps more accurately refuse, to see. I call this particular type of horror “horror vérité” or truthful horror. As a form of politically-inflected horror, it has the potential to perform the kind of materialist history that Walter Benjamin theorizes, in which the historical materialist “appropriate[es] a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger” in order to recast the present. Jordan Peele’s 2017 film, Get Out, is an example of “horror vérité,” precisely because it uses the clunky and often artificial mechanics of the horror genre in order to expose actually existing racism, to render newly visible the very real but often masked racial landscape of a professedly liberal post-racial America. My discussion of the film focuses on three aspects: first, the way it uses the conventions of horror to expose everyday racial violence; second, the way the film relies on a dialectic of sleeping and waking up –a dialectic literalized by the tension between hypnosis on the one hand and the photograph as a tool for vision on the other; and third, the way the film performs the kind of historical materialism called for by Benjamin, in which the jarring confrontation of the past and the present radically alters the way we read the present. Furthermore, in this instance, this radical form of history writing is not relegated to the ivory tower, but is disseminated through mass culture and to the masses, in Berthold Brecht’s words, “speak[ing] up decisively for the interests of its own time.”

The conference is part of the Narrative and Memory: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics interdisciplinary research network.

To reach out the programme and details of the conference, please click here.