The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 3 – Carnival of Souls (1962)

The Pop Culture Lens is a scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we seek to offer fresh perspectives on past media as we attempt to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but we present the information in a way that everyone can understand.

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Carnival of Souls and Emergent Feminism in the Early Half of the Sexual Revolution.

This is a paper I wrote for a class on Hollywood and the sexual revolution, taught by Dr. Michael DeAngelis during the Fall 2013 quarter at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. This is yet another paper I will be revising and sending out for publication over the next few weeks. At this time, I know that I want to further explore how Mary Henry is repressed through the removal of her voice, and also through isolation, as she is often positioned apart from other characters through framing and editing. If you have any suggestions or feedback on other areas I could be looking at, I would greatly appreciate hearing your ideas. Also, because this paper is is not the final version of the paper and it is not currently published in any journals, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.



According to Diana Wallace (2004) “The ghost story as a form has allowed women writers special kinds of freedom…to offer critiques of male power and sexuality which are often more radical than those in more realist genres” (p. 57). Similarly, as Cynthia Murillo (2013) writes, “The female gothic has proved a convenient and suitable forum for challenging conventional gender roles and implicating an oppressive patriarchal structure” (p. 755). While both authors were writing about short stories or gothic novels, their assertions could just as easily be applied to the film Carnival of Souls (1962), despite the fact that the film was written and directed by men. Directed by Herk Harvey and written by John Clifford, the film centers on Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), a strong-willed, independent, sexually liberated young woman who is being pursued and persecuted by a character known simply as The Man (Herk Harvey).

Continue reading “Carnival of Souls and Emergent Feminism in the Early Half of the Sexual Revolution.”