American Horror Story and Cult Television

American Horror Story and Cult Television

Narratives, Histories and Discourses

Edited by Richard Hand & Mark O’Thomas

Anthem Series on Television Studies

This collection of essays approaches the American Horror Story cult television series through a rich variety of critical perspectives within the broader field of television studies and its transections with other disciplines.

Hardback, 250 Pages


April 2023

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
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  • Table of Contents
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About This Book

Over ten seasons since 2011, the television series American Horror Story (AHS), created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, has continued to push the boundaries of the televisual form in new and exciting ways. Emerging in a context which has seen a boom in popularity for horror series on television, AHS has distinguished itself from its ‘rivals’ such as The Walking Dead, Bates Motel or Penny Dreadful through its diverse strategies and storylines which have seen it explore archetypal narratives of horror culture as well as engaging with real historical events. Utilising a repertory company model for its casting, the show has challenged issues around contemporary politics, heteronormativity, violence on the screen, and disability to name but a few. This new collection of essays approaches the AHS anthology series through a variety of critical perspectives within the broader field of television studies and its transections with other disciplines. 

The book includes sections on the industry context for the making of American Horror Story, the intertextual territory upon which the anthology series has been built, the societal and spatial aspects of American Horror Story, as well as its broader but specific relationship to otherness. The book accounts for the broad narratological sweep of AHS which crosses different times and locations while playfully exploring and openly acknowledging its internal linkages. 


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Author Information

Richard J. Hand is Professor of Media Practice at the University of East Anglia, UK. He has a particular interest in popular culture, especially horror.

Mark O’Thomas is Professor of Theatre & Performance at the University of Greenwich, UK. He has a particular interest in popular culture, especially television dystopias.


Anthem Series on Television Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction, Richard J. Hand and Mark O’Thomas; Section 1: Industries/Contexts/Consumption: Richard J. Hand, ‘I’m really not trying to be cheesy in this moustache twisty way, but it gets really bad. Things that you can’t even really imagine…’ (Sarah Paulson): American Horror Story and the Horror Ensemble Paradigm; Mark O’Thomas, The American Horror Story Repertory Company and the Evisceration of Liberalism; Daniel Berjano, A Feminist and Queer Approach to American Horror Story's Homonormative and US Nationalist Values in the ‘Asylum’ and ‘Cult’ Seasons; Section 2: Intertexts and Referents: Gothic, Voodoo, Witches: Adam Herron and Ben Nicholson, ‘Who’s the Baddest Witch in Town?’: Female Agency and Monstrosity in American Horror Story: ‘Coven’; Catherine Pugh, ‘I Know Your Body’: Trauma and the Frankenstein Myth in ‘Coven’; Richard Sheppard and LMK Sheppard, Shadows Close to Our Daily Paths: Madness, The Gothic Edifice and the Referential in American Horror Story’s ‘Asylum’; Mikaël Toulza,(De)Complexifying Voodoo in ‘Coven’ and ‘Apocalypse’; Section 3: Society, Politics, Space: Pembe Gozde Erdogan, Dismembering (Dismantling) the Body (Politic): Horror and Zeitgeist in American Horror Story: ‘Cult’; Alvaro Lopez, Desiring Horror and Desirable Retro Slashers: ‘1984’ and the Transformation of Sociocultural Intelligibility; Beth Michael-Fox, Hospitality and the dead in American Horror Story: ‘Murder House’ and American Horror Story: ‘Hotel’; Section 4: Gender/Otherness: Özgür Çalışkan, Scare with the Otherness: American Horror Story and the Other Identity; Miranda Corcoran, ‘Bitchcraft’: Adolescent Femininity and Fourth-Wave Feminism in Television Horror; Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns and Emiliano Aguilar, Cut me and I Bleed Dior’: The Dark Side of Glamour in American Horror Story, Michele Trépanier, American Horror Story: ‘Murder House’ and Female Reproductive Biology: A Haunted History.


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