PhD Candidate, Department of Film & Television Studies
I hold a BA English and Film Studies (1st Class) and an MA Popular Cultures (Distinction), both from the University of Hull. My MA dissertation was titled ‘Little Terrors: Identity and Independence in Children’s Horror Films’. I started my PhD at Warwick in 2013, where my research continues with this topic of horror films made for children. Before starting my PhD I also worked in publishing in the areas of children’s literature (Random House Children's Publishers, My Little Big Town) and academic journals (Taylor & Francis).
‘The Children’s Horror Film: beneficial fear and subversive pleasure in an (im)possible Hollywood subgenre’
My PhD thesis is on the area of horror films made for children, a sub-genre which has been gaining increased popularity in recent years with the release of films such as ParaNorman (2012) and Frankenweenie (2012) but which has received very little critical attention. One focus of the research is to begin a discourse in the academy on what the children’s horror film actually is, exploring its place in the history of Hollywood throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and building upon existing scholarship on the history, censorship, and characteristics of children’s cinema. The primary focus, however, is to examine the themes inherent in horror films made not only for children, but which are about children and the experiences of childhood. By exploring the presentation of childhood themes in the corpus texts, the thesis will determine how the fears and experiences of childhood are represented, and are particlarly suited to being represented, using monstrous and frightening elements associated with the horror genre. This research is funded by an AHRC Doctoral Award.
Supervisor: Dr Helen Wheatley
My other research interests include animation, children’s literature, film and television, and gender in popular culture (particularly representations of girls).
I am currently a seminar tutor on the module Discovering Cinema.
In Spring 2015 I led two seminar groups on the second-year undergraduate module Hollywood Cinema.
I have contributed guest lectures on ‘Children’s Horror’ to the third-year undergraduate modules Television and Audio Visual Cultures: Case Studies (Spring 2014) and Horror and the Gothic in Film and TV (Spring 2015 and Spring 2016). A modified version of this lecture was also delivered in Autumn 2015 on the interdiscplinary module Ethical Beings run by the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.
‘The Children's Horror Film: characterizing an “impossible” sub-genre’, The Velvet Light Trap 78 (2016), 22-37.
‘Frozen Hearts and Fixer Uppers: Villainy, gender, and female companionship in Disney’s Frozen’ in Discussing Disney, ed. Amy M. Davis. New Barnet: John Libbey Publishing (forthcoming 2017).
In March 2016 I co-organised the HRC-funded interdisciplinary conference '"Let's Hear it for the Girls": Girlhood, Media and Popular Culture, 1990-present' with Leah Phillips (English).
‘“A Good Scare”: (Im)possibility, Pleasure and Acceptance in the Children's Horror Film’, Fear 2000: A 21st Century Horror Conference. Sheffield Hallam University, 1-2 April 2016.
‘Frozen Hearts and Fixer Uppers: subverting representations of villainy and gender in Disney’s Frozen’, Millburn House Symposium: Representation in the Arts. University of Warwick, 27 May 2015.
‘A new kind of witch: villainy and gender in Disney’s Frozen,’ Discussing Disney. University of Hull, 3-4 September 2014.
‘Classifying Gizmo: the controversy of Joe Dante’s Gremlins and the creation of the PG-13 rating,’ 1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now? University of Sunderland, London Campus, 23-24 April 2014.
‘Happily Ever After? Endings in Children’s Horror Fiction,’ XXV IAMHIST Conference: Childhood and the Media. University of Leicester, 17-20 July 2013.
‘“Now you see me”: Eyes, “I”s, and identity in horror films for children,’ Literature, Film, and Popular Cultures Postgraduate Conference 2012. University of Hull, 15 May 2012.
I contribute reviews and articles to the dual review and film criticism site alternatetakes.co.uk. Pieces I have written for the site include articles on Frozen (2013), The Lego Movie (2014), and a comparison of the treatments of optimism and apocalypse in the films Mad Max: Fury Road and Tomorrowland (2015).
Convenor of the Girlhood postgraduate reading group (2015-). If you are interested in joining the group please get in touch, and/or join the Facebook page.
Convenor of the Film & TV Postgraduate Research Group (2015-).
PhD representative (2013-16) and chair (2015-16) of the Film & TV postgraduate SSLC.
Mentor to MA students applying for doctoral funding (2013-14).
c dot lester at warwick dot ac dot uk
Norman watches a horror film on television
ParaNorman (Laika, 2012)