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French Literature Professor Writes Horror Analysis, Gets Picked for Series Editor Position

French literature professor Marc Olivier made a splash with his book "Household Horror: Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects," landing him a series editor position for a new series, Icons of Horror.

Cover of Marc Olivier's Book, Household Horror: Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects

Professor Marc Olivier (French & Italian) was chosen by the Indiana University Press (IUP) on Jan. 22 to partner with them as the series editor to launch a new book after his own recent book, Household Horror: Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects, was published. 

The series Icons of Horror will feature how humans interact with inanimate objects, settings, and even the common villain character as they are presented in horror films. 

“There's a huge audience for horror,” said Olivier. “I think we've seen it with films, like Get Out that were massive blockbusters. Horror is kind of in a golden age right now. It's this new golden age of horror that I don't think has existed since the 1940s.” 

“It probably seems bizarre for somebody who's a scholar of 18th century French literature to be writing about horror, but for me, I started doing about one horror paper a year as sort of a fun, guilty pleasure. Then I just realized that I had built up a reputation over time in that area. And so that's why I decided to do my book. Now I've kind of become an expert in horror, but only because I've liked it my entire life,” Olivier said.

Olivier’s book, Household Horror: Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects, discusses how household objects play a part in horror films. From a chainsaw to a microwave to a knife, tools like these have become iconic parts of the horror film industry.

“Instead of talking about the characters, or even the plot, [my book is] really about the microwave in Gremlins, or a refrigerator,” said Olivier. “It was kind of a leap of faith. [I asked myself] what would happen if we looked at things that aren't human? What does it tell us about that object being something that makes us scared?”

The book was published by the IUP on Feb. 11, 2020, and in late January 2021, IUP contacted Olivier about the upcoming Icons of Horror project as a result of the success of his book.

“They contacted me about starting a series, and they wanted it to be a series of books that would be for the broad public. They're still academic books, but without too much jargon, and really aimed at horror fans as much as cinema scholars.” 

The series will feature a wide range of topics in horror, from what a certain setting in a movie brings to the table, like a forest or a graveyard, to the minor details, props, and designs of a particular film.

“We fear objects, if we realize that objects have a different life of their own, that we don't understand,” Olivier said. Icons of Horror will capture and analyze that fear in a way that no one has seen before. 

Purchase Marc Olivier’s Household Horror: Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects on Amazon.