A GHOST STORY FOR CHRISTMAS: A BRITISH HOLIDAY HORROR TRADITION
STORY FOR CHRISTMAS: A BRITISH HOLIDAY HORROR TRADITION
Monday Dec 10, 7-10pm
Instructors: Kier-La Janisse and Kristopher Woofter
To kick off the holiday break, we’ll say farewell to the Fall 2012 semester with a one-off class celebrating the British holiday horror tradition of the BBC’s seminal A Ghost Story for Christmas series that ran from 1971 to 1978. While the confluence of Christmas and horror has folkloric beginnings (in such things as Europe’s alpine Krampus monster) and a literary tradition that stretches back to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it was the success of the stark but scary M.R. James adaptation Whistle and I’ll Come to You by the BBC’s Omnibus series in 1968 that prompted the BBC to tap James’ writing for a holiday-season horror series that would hearken back to the oral tradition of terror tales by the fireside (Author and medieval scholar M.R. James – widely held as Britain’s greatest ghost story writer - was known for reading his terrifying tales aloud to guests over the holidays).
We’ll look at this series in particular but will also extend discussion to its influence over British holiday horror programming in general (such as Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape), and the series’ revival in the 2000s. We’ll also discuss the English ghost story—with its ritual emphasis on specters, revenants and impossible beings returning as resurrected figures of redemption—as a form particularly apt for expressing the spirit of the holiday season in the popular Christian tradition.