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Available Expert - Ghouls, ghosts and zombies - exploring the origins of our favourite Halloween monster stories

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Two Queen's University researchers are available to discuss the origins of our favourite Halloween monster legends, as well as the reasons behind their enduring popularity.

English professor Robert Morrison is available to discuss the origins of two of the best known monster legends of today: Frankenstein and the vampire. Both of these two monsters were created on the same summer weekend exactly 200 hundred years ago this year. To celebrate this anniversary, scholars, horror fans, and movie enthusiasts have been enthusiastically discussing and revisiting these famous monsters.

“It is probably the most enduringly scary weekend in all of history. In June 1816, four friends – Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and John Polidori – were together in Geneva, and decided to pass the time by having a ghost-story competition,” says Dr. Morrison. “Byron and Percy Shelley soon withdrew, but nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley went on to write Frankenstein while almost simultaneously the twenty-one-year-old Polidori produced The Vampyre.”

“These two tales have had an incalculable impact upon our culture, for they touched off a fascination with modern monsters and vampires that is now almost two hundred years old, and that is more urgent and relevant today than it was when they were first published almost two centuries ago.”

English Literature PhD candidate Steve Asselin, whose research is focused on the Gothic genre of literature, adds the reason monster legends resonate is that many of them are rooted in our own relationship with nature and the world around us.

​"Classic horror monsters express our unease about our place in nature," he says. "The werewolf reflects the fear that humans are only animals, the vampire threatens to displace us from our position at the top of the food chain. Even the modern zombie craze asks us to imagine how we would survive if civilization were stripped away and we were thrust back into a state of nature."

Dr. Morrison is available for interviews from October 27-31. Mr. Asselin is available after 2 pm on October 27, as well as October 28-31.

To arrange an interview with either Dr. Morrison or Mr. Asselin, please contact communication officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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Attention broadcasters: Queen’s has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston with HD-SDI. Please call for details.

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