CFP: Candyman and the Whole Damn Swarm

A 30th Anniversary Conference

This is a collaboration between the Centre for the History of the Gothic at the University of Sheffield, Fear 2000 at Sheffield Hallam University, and University of California, Riverside. The principal organisers are Maisha Wester, John Jennings, Craig Ian Mann, and Mary Going, and you can read more about them here. We are thrilled to announce our Keynote Roundtable featuring Dr Kinitra Brooks, Tananarive Due, Dr. Robin Means Coleman, and Jon Towlson. More details and special guests will be announced soon. 

30 years ago, Polygram Filmed Entertainment released Candyman, a film loosely adapted from Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden”. Unlike Barker’s original text, this Candyman was set in Chicago, specifically the urban ghetto Cabrini-Green, and seemed to focus on the tragedy of a Black artist who vengefully returns as a violent ghost after his brutal lynching. The film and its ideologies were complicated. Innovative in its starting point – a story of profound Black suffering which called attention to the racial injustice underpinning US society – audiences were also given a tale which reiterated ideas of Black monstrosity and illogical interracial violence. Notably, the film and its stars went on to win a number of awards, and spawned a franchise worthy of critical exploration.

29 years later, Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta released the long-awaited Black response to the original film. Released in the midst of another wave of anti-Black violence, the film served as both tribute and corrective to the original, shifting the focus from the white heroine’s quest (the center of the original film) to the terror and pain of Black men made monstrous and the Black women forced to act as witnesses. Ultimately this later film asked audiences “who is the real monster: Candyman, or the violent racist society which created him?”

This conference, a collaboration between the Centre for the History of the Gothic at the University of Sheffield, Fear 2000 at Sheffield Hallam University, and the University of California, Riverside, and taking place on Friday 7 – Sunday 9 October 2022, seeks to explore, critique and celebrate the legacy of Candyman as text, film and, in it’s latest iteration, clapback…

We invite papers that focus on the following themes:

  • Historical and sociopolitical contexts
  • Blaxploitation and Black Horror
  • Monsters and monstrosity
  • Gender and feminism
  • Class, gentrification, and race
  • Ancestral trauma and narratives of violence 
  • Sequels, adaptations, and source materials including: Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden”; the original sequels (Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, 1995 and Candyman: Day of the Dead, 1999); and the 2021 legacy sequel
  • Transmedia including: advertising, merchandise, gaming, songs, pop culture etc.
  • Candyman as urban legend and folklore 
  • Sounds of Candyman including film soundtracks and Ice Nine Kill’s “Farewell II Flesh”
  • Film production

These are just suggestions and we welcome proposals for 20 minute papers or panel proposals (with three 20 minute papers) exploring any and all aspects of Candyman, its histories and its legacies. We also welcome proposals for nontraditional, creative papers and / or art submissions: see our FAQ and the poster below for more details or get in touch to discuss your idea.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words along with a short bio to thewholedamnswarm@gmail.com. The deadline for abstracts is 8 July 2022. 

This will be an international hybrid conference taking place in person in Sheffield (UK), Riverside, California (US) and virtually on zoom across different time zones, and as such may be subject to scheduling changes due to COVID restrictions or time zone conflicts. Please see our FAQ before submitting an abstract. 

Creative Submissions:

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of CANDYMAN (1992) we invite creative submissions to be included as part of an online virtual gallery. This gallery will feature alongside Candyman and the Whole Damn Swarm: A Thirtieth Anniversary Conference, organised by The Centre for the History of the Gothic at the University of Sheffield, Fear 2000 at Sheffield Hallam University, and University of California, Riverside from 7-9 October 2022. 

The gallery will be launched as part of the conference’s opening session and will be available for free to the public during and after the conference. Submissions to be sent as a digital file such as jpeg, png, mp4, word doc, or a pdf, or as a link to a youtube video to thewholedamnswarm@gmail.com. Unfortunately we are unable to accept sculpture submissions.

Creative submissions include, but are not limited to:
photography
drawings 
paintings
digital artwork
artwork / comics
short videos
music
poetry
Short Fiction

Deadline for submissions: 8 July 2022

#TellEveryone