Watch: Alumni Masterclass – Making Sense of Horror

On Wednesday 27 October we were joined by Dr James Aston for the third episode in our second series of Alumni Masterclasses. You can watch the video of that session below.

The session uses as its starting point David Bordwell’s comments that filmmakers need to make images intelligible before they can convey higher order stuff such as moods, ideas, themes, ideology, and cultural values (1997, p. 163). The session will address a number of interactive horror case studies to evaluate how the image is put together and how the basic factors of what guides or attracts the viewer’s attention can open up detailed examinations of how meaning is constructed, how our fears are manipulated, and how our responses are heightened.  In other words, exploring how the “filmic techniques, principles, devices, conventions, and images” (2004, p.131) of horror have been effective in frightening and horrifying the viewer.


Bordwell. D. 1997. On the History of Film Style. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Schneider, S. J. 2004. ‘Toward an Aesthetics of Cinematic Horror.’ In The Horror Film, edited by Prince, S. Rutgers University Press. pp. 131-49.

Bio: Dr James Aston

Dr James Aston is a Senior Lecturer in film working within the Screen subject area. He is the Programme Leader for the Film and Media Studies degree programmes at the University of Hull, and teaches extensively on the film programme including American Alternative CinemaEast Asian Cinema and Global Nightmares: Horror From Around the World. His principal research interests lie in the field of horror and apocalyptic cinema, especially post 9/11 texts. He has published numerous articles in both research areas and is co-editor of Television, Sex, and Society: Analyzing Contemporary Representations (2012), Small Screen Revelations: Apocalypse in Contemporary Television (2013), To See the Saw Movies: Essays on Torture Porn and Post-9/11 Horror (2013), and Renegotiating Film Genres in East Asian Cinemas and Beyond (2020). He has also written a monograph on the horror filmmakers Fred Vogel, Shane Ryan, and Lucifer Valentine, entitled Hardcore Horror Cinema in the 21st Century: Production, Marketing, and Consumption (McFarland, 2018).

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