Why do we love to be scared? Launch of new book by Prof Darryl Jones

John Connolly, Prof Chris Morash, Prof Darryl Jones and Margaret Robson

Bestselling Irish crime writer John Connolly was the guest speaker at the launch of ‘Sleeping With The Lights On: The Unsettling Story of Horror’ by Trinity’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Darryl Jones last night.

In his new book delving into the darkest corners of the horror genre, Professor Jones explores why we love to scare ourselves and how horror stories reflect society’s taboos. Published by Oxford University Press, the book shows that the horror genre is huge — there are thousands of books, films, games, and other forms of entertainment which are designed to frighten us for fun. Ranging from vampires, ghosts, and werewolves to mad scientists, Satanists, and deranged serial killers, the cathartic release of scaring ourselves has made its appearance in everything from Shakespearean tragedies to internet memes.

Prof Darryl Jones with Prof Aileen Douglas, Head of the School of English

Exploring the key tropes of the genre, including its monsters, its psychological chills, and its love affair with the macabre, the book analyses the way in which horror has been used throughout history to articulate the fears and taboos of the current generation and how the genre is continuing to evolve today.

Speaking at the launch Vice Provost Chris Morash praised the “wit, the humour, the intellectual generosity and curiosity” of the book and noted that these attributes were rare in an academic publication.

Launching the book, award-winning Irish crime fiction author John Connolly, recalled his time in Trinity and the seismic shifts in attitudes that led to mystery fiction being included as a sophister option for the first time in 1991 by Professor Ian Campbell Ross and noted the transformation in attitudes towards popular and genre fiction.

John Connolly and Prof Jones

He said that it was a source of great pride that his alma mater should not only have spearheaded the academic study of the mystery novel in Ireland but has established the world’s first MPhil in popular literature. The credit for this transformation should go to a group of academics most notably Professor Jones, he added.