Student Profile

Olivia Oliver-Hopkins

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Thesis Title

Hell’s Belles: The Queer Potential of the Southern Imaginary and Modern American Horror Film

Supervisors

Bruce Isaacs
Associate Supervisor - Sarah Gleeson-White (English department)

Thesis Abstract

My thesis explores the depiction of the US Southern imaginary in modern American horror film from 1960 to the present day. Drawing on the work of Jennifer Greeson, Jack Halberstam, Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler, among others, I examine the role of the Southern imaginary as an 'internal Other', an abject place, for the United States as a whole. Moreover, I argue that there is potential to embrace this abject status in order to challenge the status quo, and through this the South can be reclaimed and function in a similar way to Butler’s notion of the queer. This is especially true in the medium of horror film due to the genre’s implicit (and sometimes explicit) embrace of the abject, making it a queer genre. The chapters of my work expand upon these ideas and the ways that they interact with notions of class and race, as well as religion and the trope of cannibalism.

Professional and/or Community Engagement

Speaking role as ‘Tabitha’, Dark Room (Tom Waters, 2009)
Private high school film, drama and English tutor, 2010 – present
Film lecturer and tutor for Hale & Fun, an educational program for the elderly, 2011 - present
Sessional tutor/teaching assistant for AMST1001 Global America at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, Semester 2 2013

Conference Presentations

  • A Queer Future for Horror?, The Coming of Age of LGBTQ Studies: Past, Present and Future Directions, San Diego, 17-18 April 2015
  • Queering the Horror Genre, or, Horror-ing the Queer, 45th Annual Conference of the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association, New Orleans, 1-4 April 2015
  • Of Cult Film and Cannibals: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand 5th Annual International Conference, Hobart, 18-20 June 2014
  • Horror, the Queer, and the Abject in "Dead Birds", Contemporary Horrors: Destabilising a Cinematic Genre, Chicago, 25-26 April 2014
  • Welcome to Our Nightmare… Hangover: Horror Area panel on Karen Black's Trilogy of Terror, 44th Annual Conference of the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association, Chicago, 16-19 April 2014
  • "I Told You I Wanted a Black One This Time": Hoodoo, Race and the South in "The Skeleton Key", 44th Annual Conference of the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association, Chicago, 16-19 April 2014
  • White Trash and the US South in Rob Schmidt's "Wrong Turn", Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand 4th Annual International Conference, Brisbane, 24-26 June 2013
  • "Why Do You Come on These Trips with Me, Ed?": Homosexuality as Demon in the Modern Single-Sex Southern Horror/Thriller Film, 43rd Annual Conference of the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association, Washington, D.C., 27-30 March 2013

Favourite Films

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski, 2003)
Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003)