STS Faculty Profile: Laura Kremmel

STS Faculty Profile

Laura Kremmel is Assistant Professor of English & Humanities.

What’s your area of expertise? What do you primarily research and/or teach? And what drew you to this field?

My training is in Gothic Studies and British Romanticism (British literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries), so my expertise is in the early Gothic novels, poetry, and drama that started the Gothic tradition we still read today. I’ve always been particularly interested in two authors: Matthew Lewis, who wrote a scandalous novel called The Monk (1796), and Charlotte Dacre, who wrote an even more scandalous novel called Zofloya (1806). Both are about transgressing boundaries through shockingly graphic and gory scenes, leading me to become curious about the ways that they challenge conventional understandings of what bodies are, do, or could be.

In my teaching and recent research, I’ve expanded into the Health Humanities, history of medicine, other eras of Gothic literature, and horror film. The Gothic is so obsessed with empowering bodies of all kinds that there’s a lot of work in combining the Gothic with the Health Humanities, Disability Studies, and Death Studies. I started to see these fields coming together while visiting medical museums (like the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia), where I saw Gothic narratives being applied to the history of medicine and its impacts.   

A group of women seated around a table with a candle and books.
Tales of Wonder by James Gillray (1802)

High-Tech Spirits and Ghost Tours

Events, history, horror

By Laura Kremmel

The 2020 film Host (dir. Rob Savage) was recently crowned the scariest horror movie according to a scientific study that measured the heart rates of 250 viewers watching 40 different films. As someone who watches a lot of horror and is usually not affected by it, I had to turn on all the lights in my house after watching it alone on a tablet. Why is it so scary? It’s all in the technology.

Host (2020)

The film is about a séance held by five friends and a medium, all in different locations and connected to each other not only through the medium leading them or their shared concentration but also through Zoom, a program we’ve all come to rely on to make us feel connected to each other. As the trailer asks, what if it connects us with something else?