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Viewing Horror Movies Through a Feminist Lens

Ashley Barry

“For most of my life, I could never watch scary movies; I’ve always hated them,” says undergraduate researcher Ashley Barry ’18.  “I think it’s so funny that I ended up actually choosing this area to work on for my project.”

Ashley, a double major in English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a participant in the 2017 URECA summer research program., has spent the summer watching scary movies, reading theory, and immersing herself in scholarly research for her senior thesis project on: “Feminine Fear: Affect Theory and Horror Films in the Twenty-first Century.”

The project developed out of a paper Ashley wrote for a class on Transnational Feminism taught by Prof. Joy Schaefer where Ashley analyzed the film, The Babadook. For her senior thesis, supervised by Prof Justin Johnson (English Department), Ashley plans to focus on four 21 st Century films: The Babadook, The Witch,Antichrist, and Dark Water, analyzing them through the lens of Affect Theory.

Unfazed by the prospect of writing such a big paper, Ashley rather sees the senior thesis as a great opportunity for self expression:  “I’m really very excited about doing the thesis. I’ve been in this stage of putting all the ideas together, and learning from a ton of other people… with the thesis, I’ll be able to say: ‘Okay, this is what I’ve learned. Here are my ideas, here’s my contribution’  — just putting that into words is very exciting!”

Last April, Ashley gave a talk at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference (SURC East) at Suffolk County Community College, on “Teaching Hatchet and Masculinity.” This fall, she will be taking a graduate seminar class on Affect Theory with Prof. Susan Scheckel (English Department), and plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in English/Women’s Studies.

To give a student perspective on URECA and the value of undergraduate research experiences in the humanities, Ashley volunteered this past July to talk with high school students participating in the Pre-College Summer Institute offered through the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS). Ashley has also been involved as a Teaching Assistant for EGL204, completed the Social Justice League certificate program, and is currently a tutor at the Writing Center. She has served as Vice President of The Next Generation (an alternative sexualities social and educational club), and has interned at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. Ashley has also been involved as a Steering Committee member of the Long Island Unity Collaborative. Ashley is from Centereach NY, attended Centereach HS, and is a first generation college student.

Read excerpts from Ashley’s interview with Karen Kernan, URECA Director.

Ashley Barry ’18 Views Horror Movies Through a Feminist Lens was originally published on the Stony Brook University website.