CFP: Rotting Corpses: Ecocritical Approaches to Death and Decomposition

Edited Collection Title: Rotting Corpses: Ecocritical Approaches to Death and Decomposition

Editors: Sara Crosby, Carter Soles, and Ashley Kniss

In Julia Kristeva’s seminal work, The Powers of Horror, she describes decay as the “contamination of life by death” (149). She goes on to write that “a decaying body, lifeless, completely turned into dejection, blurred between the inanimate and inorganic, a transitional swarming, inseparable lining of a human nature whose life is indistinguishable from the symbolic—the corpse represents fundamental pollution” (109). Kristeva’s work has influenced countless treatments of Gothic horror, helping to define the parameters of an unstable genre and explain why the corpse features so heavily in a genre where bodies, especially dead ones, are de rigueur. However, as scholars devote more attention to the ecoGothic and ecohorror, the role of the corpse is changing. The rotting corpse, dead or undead, is as multifaceted in ecohorror as the macro- and microinvertebrates that swarm within it. On one hand, the corpse remains a site of uncanny blurring between the familiar, human form and that which is alien, frightening, and inhuman. On the other hand, the corpse, especially when it rots, is also a site that teams with nonhuman life, a thriving ecosystem unto itself that represents potential hybridities, posthuman potentialities, and layers of transcorporeal encounters. Corpses in ecohorror rise from both biodiverse swamplands as well as petroleum-rich wells. Ecohorror’s corpses are not limited to the human, but also extend to the enormous corpses of the monsters in creature features. Ecohorror’s corpses are useful, disgusting, beautiful, and funny. Moreover, rotting corpses in ecohorror challenge the anthropocentric reactions of disgust that Kristeva outlines in The Powers of Horror, and evince new ways of conceptualizing the common materiality that binds the human and the nonhuman together.

This collection seeks essays that feature the rotting corpse in ecohorror, addressing topics such as but not limited to corpses in relation to:

  • Posthumanism
  • Transcorporeality
  • Materiality
  • Disgust
  • Hybridity
  • Monsters
  • Pop Culture
  • Petrohorror
  • History
  • Burial Traditions
  • Green Burial
  • Aesthetics and Beauty of the Corpse
  • Folk Traditions and the Dead
  • Animal Corpses
  • The gothic
  • Ecohorror
  • Extinction
  • The Anthropocene
  • Spirituality
  • Race, Sex, Gender
  • Nonhuman decomposition
  • Mythology
  • Graveyards, Cemeteries, and Crypts
  • Relics and Religion
  • Corpses in Videogames

Please submit a 250 word proposal/abstract to  along with your name, affiliation, and a short 50-word bio by September 1st, 2024.