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The Fear Network

'The Fear Network' is a new cross-faculty research group that connects people working on the role of emotions and/in society. In particular, as our name suggests, we’re interested in how emotions that are usually considered negative — fear, anxiety, humiliation, disgust, and so on — have shaped cultural and political life.
Munch's The Scream
We come together in a new age of fear: a time of wars, pandemics, and environmental collapse, of political populisms, social divisions, and economic crises. But we also recognise that fear has always been integral to our private and collective experiences: from la Terreur of the French Revolution to the twenty-first century's ‘War on Terror’, from Greek tragedy to the contemporary horror film, emotional language has been fundamental to individual and collective world-making throughout history, a tool of coercion and demonisation, a motivation for radical change, and the heart of our most disturbing cultural forms. But how can we grasp this meeting point of intimate subjectivity with collective social conditions? How can we bring these transhistorical and transnational 'feelings' into our understanding of history? How have negative affects formed modern selfhood and been weaponised for the purposes of political persuasion? Why do we seek out frightening experiences but recoil from a frightening world?
The aim of the network is to, 1) bring together people from different disciplinary backgrounds to generate a fuller understanding of the global and historical varieties of negative affects and their importance to narrative culture, subjective experience, and political power, and 2) bridge intellectual and institutional divides between cultural, political, philosophical, and scientific research. While we are open to multiple approaches to affect studies, our collective goal is a better grasp of how our darkest and most vulnerable emotions have shaped — and continue to shape — the world we live in.
We seek colleagues at any stage from across the university to join us. If you want to express an interest and be kept up to date with future developments you can sign up to the mailing list here. Further information about an inaugural symposium will follow shortly.

Affiliated researchers

Jen Baker is an Assistant Professor of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, researching haunted expressions of child death in the long nineteenth century, and the role gothicised illustration plays in capturing, inciting and conveying an array of fears in Anglophone cultures of the long nineteenth century.

Fabio Camiletti is Professor of Italian literature in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. His research interests span from the transnational Gothic (eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries) to contemporary occulture. He directed a project on early nineteenth-century supernatural anthologies and worked extensively on the semantics of fear between the Greco-Roman world and nineteenth-century culture.

Catalina Carpan is a Teaching Fellow in Political Theory. She uses critical whiteness studies and critical race theory to analyze how fear can be amplified through law enforcement policies to subvert the rationality of white and non-white citizens and to produce docile, disciplined bodies.

Henrique Carvalho is a Reader in the School of Law. His research interests are in cultural and social studies, criminal law and justice, and the philosophy and sociology of punishment. He writes on the socio-cultural dynamics of hostility, the emotional allure of punishment, and the aesthetics of criminalisation and justice.

Anastasia Chamberlen is Associate Professor of Sociology. Her research concerns questions of identity, emotions and expression in criminal justice and focuses on experiences of imprisonment and punishment. Her work taps onto the issues of punitive sentiments in Britain; ‘culture wars’, gender and feminist criminology; arts, aesthetics and creativity in carceral settings; and questions of vulnerability and emotion work in prisons.

Matt Denny is a Teaching Fellow in Film and Television. He specialises in contemporary genre cinema, with a particular interest in horror, science fiction, and action. Matt has published work on spectacle in action cinema, the female vampire, and is co-author of a chapter on queer theory and representations of AI in the Alien franchise for The Oxford Handbook of New Science Fiction Cinemas. Matt is interested in exploring how the narrative conventions of haunting and possession are taken up in screen representations of AI.

Reece Goodall is a Director of Student Experience and Progression in the Faculty of Arts. His research interests include the horror genre in France and the USA, and he has published on topics including authoritarianism and cultural memory in horror, canonical figures in the genre (such as Wes Craven and Alexandre Aja), and franchises such as Saw.

Robin Goodwin is a Professor of Psychology. He is interested in how anxiety and fear follow large-scale threatening events such as pandemics or terror attacks and the consequences of this for both interpersonal relationships and the wider society.

Emily Gray is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. Her research background is in social policy and criminology and she has published widely on the social and political antecedents of fear of crime, as well as exploring other emotional responses to crime and punishment.

Michaela Gummerum is a Reader in Psychology. She is interested in how emotions affect human decision-making and how children, adolescents, and adults regulate their own and others’ emotions. As part of this research, she investigates how people conceptualize different types of emotions (anger, fear, shame, pride) and what functions these emotions may serve for making appropriate decisions in different contexts.

Alexandra Homolar is Professor of International Security in the Department of Politics and International Studies. Her research interests lie at the intersection of security, language, and political psychology. Her publications include The Uncertainty Doctrine: Narrative Politics and US Hard Power after the Cold War (Cambridge University Press, 2023) and articles in journals such as Security Dialogue, International Affairs, and European Journal of International Relations.

Hannah Jones is Professor of Sociology. She works on belonging, racisms and antiracisms, and the politics of migration control, with a particular interest in the relationship between feelings and power, particularly in governance and policy. She teaches the undergraduate module 'Powerful Feelings: Emotions as Social and Political.'

Jane Qian Liu is Associate Professor in Translation and Chinese Studies. Her research focuses on the reading of translated love stories among Chinese readers in early twentieth century and contains the scenario with a brand new conceptual framework, combining the examination of translated texts with the experience of reading.

Naomi Pullin is Associate Professor of Early Modern British History in the History department. Her research and teaching explores nonconformity and dissent in early modern Britain and North America and addresses the emotional and cultural causes and impact of exclusion and marginalisation.

Mark Storey is Reader in American Literature in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies. His research interests lie generally in American literature and culture since the nineteenth century, and he is beginning a project on fear, 'genre fiction,' and political subjectivity in US life since the 1960s.

Helen Wheatley is Professor of Film and Television Studies and Director of the Warwick Institute of Engagement. She has written extensively about television history and aesthetics, including work on the Gothic and the supernatural in television. Her new book, Television/Death, explores the representation of death, dying, bereavement, and the afterlife on TV, and how television might be seen as an inherently posthumous medium.