In March of 2010, I founded The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, an international organization that offers undergraduate-level history, theory and production-based masterclasses that now has branches in London, New York and Los Angeles.
Miskatonic is a largely volunteer-run endeavour through which established horror writers, directors, scholars and programmers/curators celebrate horror history and culture. Miskatonic operates on a September-May school year broken into Fall and Spring semesters, and has presented hundreds of classes since its inception.
It started as a one-time spring break workshop for teens at Aqua Books in Winnipeg, Canada, where I was a writer-in-residence working on my book House of Psychotic Women. I was surprised when another youth group invited me to come talk about horror to their kids, and it prompted me to round up some of the other horror critics I knew to see if this could be an ongoing endeavor. The first instructor who wasn’t me was Caelum Vatnsdal, author of the book They Came from Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema, and shortly thereafter I moved to Montreal to open a microcinema called Blue Sunshine, and with Miskatonic now having a permanent home, I endeavored to offer an ambitious program of classes once a week. Over the years many people have joined me in making Miskatonic a sustainable entity.
Instructors have included Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Daniel Bird, Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon, Douglas E. Winter, Grady Hendrix, Jack Ketchum, Jack Sargeant, Jasper Sharp, John Skipp, Karen Arthur, Kim Newman, Maitland McDonagh, Mark Jancovich, Mitch Horowitz, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Thrower and many more of the genre’s most renowned luminaries.
Classes I have personally taught at Miskatonic include: Murder Season: Crime-Solving Plants and Other Vegetal Horrors (2019); Travel Terror: Airline Anxiety in the Golden Age of Hijacking (2017); Tele-Terrors: The Real and Imagined Horrors Inside the Made-for-Television Movie (with Amanda Reyes and Jennifer Wallis, 2017); School of Shock: Pain and Pleasure in the Classroom Safety Film (2012) and more.
You can find out more about Miskatonic and its ongoing activities at its official website, miskatonicinstitute.com.
Photo: Peter Bebergal presenting at Miskatonic NYC in 2019.