As you lay in your bed, waiting for sleep to come, an eerie sound travels down the empty hallway. The creak of old floorboards begins to match the sound of ghostly footsteps and your grip tightens on blanket, your shield against the unknown entity outside your door.
Whether it is on the big screen, a hardbound book, in your own experience, we have all seen or heard of haunting tales that in daylight are told in jest but soon morph into whispered what-ifs as midnight falls. Frightful tales of ghosts and hauntings have made a permanent mark in media and history, but how do these urban legends go from hearsay to hauntings?
Southern Utah University English professor and international zombie aficionado Kyle Bishop will tell the spooky history of haunted houses and ghosts, focusing on how the haunted house came to be and how it is portrayed in fiction and film, this Wednesday, on Halloween night in “Boo! The History of Haunted Houses in America.” The event, set for the Sterling Church Auditorium within the Student Center Rotunda, will begin at 7 p.m.
“The whole concept of haunted houses is a recent invention and that is what I will be discussing at the event,” said Dr. Bishop. “I will be speaking specifically about why the intimacy of the home is to credit for the growing popularity in haunted houses since the 19th century. It is an intimate attack and usually comes by a secret that has been hidden. An idea that hits close to ‘home’.”
“In the past my main focus of research has been zombies and I even taught a class about vampires, but the idea of ghosts and haunted houses is new to me,” said Bishop. “Ghosts are the most believed in monster, and to learn about the thing we are scared most of is intriguing.”
Though it is not mandatory, attendees are encouraged to watch “The Poltergeist,” now playing at the historic Cedar Theatre on Main Street, as preparation. Guests may also dress in Halloween costume, as a free Halloween party will follow Bishop’s eerie presentation. The SUU Honors Program sponsors the lecture and party.
Dr. Bishop has presented and published a variety of critical essays and articles on popular culture and cinematic adaptation, including such topics as Metropolis, Night of the Living Dead, Fight Club, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawn of the Dead, Frankenstein, The Birds, Zombieland and The Walking Dead. His first book, American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture, is now available from McFarland and Co., Publishers.