Gothic Nature II: New Directions in Ecohorror and the Ecogothic

  • Michael Wheatley (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Presented a research paper entitled 'Conceptualising the ecoWeird'. The abstract for this paper was as follows:

In anticipation of my PhD thesis, ‘EcoWeird: An Ecocritical Re-evaluation of Weird Fiction’, this paper introduces the theoretical background and framework of the ecoWeird. A new generic term to encompass the corpus of ecologically-minded Weird fiction, the ecoWeird draws upon Timothy Morton’s dark ecology to argue that the Weird historically dismantles ecological boundaries and reflects contemporary ecocritical concerns.

Specifically, the ecoWeird can be divided into three waves: the Old Weird (1890s-1930s), the Mid Weird (1950s-1960s) and the New Weird (1990s-). The fiction of each of these movements engages with unique ecological anxieties, such as Darwinism during the Old Weird or climate crisis in New Weird writing. Yet, as an inherently intertextual mode, ecoWeird texts also provide ample conversations across these periods. As an example, the Old Weird author Algernon Blackwood anticipates many of the discussions surrounding nonhuman agency found in the works of the New Weird author, Jeff VanderMeer.

First, this paper introduces the theoretical basis of the ecoWeird alongside its key concepts. These concepts include hybridity (the blurring of human/nonhuman distinctions) and ecological liminal spaces (environments where the human and the nonhuman are brought into close, uncertain contact with one another). Then considering notable texts, this paper highlights the development of these concepts through each of the aforementioned periods. Example works include The Man Whom the Trees Loved (1912) by Algernon Blackwood, The Day of the Triffids (1951) by John Wyndham and Annihilation (2014) by Jeff VanderMeer.

Employing Morton’s dark ecological theory alongside primary source material, this paper endeavours to reframe the Weird as a distinctly ecological genre. In doing so, it hopes to shift critical discussion of the Weird towards theories of ecocriticism, evidence the potential of the Weird in addressing ecological crises and open up a new avenue of consideration for ecohorror.
Period14 Sept 2019
Event typeConference
Conference number2
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Gothic
  • Nature
  • Ecohorror
  • Weird Fiction
  • Horror
  • Ecocriticism
  • Ecology
  • Environment