Hansen Co-Edits Journal Issue on Stephen King as Science Fiction Writer

Regina Hansen
Regina Hansen

Novelist Stephen King has a 70th birthday coming up on September 21. College of General Studies Master Lecturer of Rhetoric Regina Hansen has co-edited a special issue of the journal Science Fiction Film and Television to celebrate King’s work as a science fiction writer and as “a significant force in mainstream popular culture in the twenty-first century.”

King is known as a writer of horror—the author of timeless classics like The Shining, Carrie, It and The Dark Tower in theaters now —but Hansen and her co-editor Simon Brown point to an anecdote King tells about when he first understood that the world was a scary place.  As a child, he first understood the world’s darkness at a screening of Earth vs. The Flying Saucers when he learned that Russians had launched Sputnik.

“The journey of the man whose name would become synonymous with horror began not with Lovecraft or Poe, but with Sputnik,” Hansen and Brown write in the introduction to the issue. “For all King is usually discussed primarily as a gothic or horror author, we must not overlook the importance of science fiction in his work.” The issue offers “a series of new perspectives” on King, the science fiction writer.

Hansen’s article focuses on King’s “nostalgia for underdog boyhood” and the way the male underdog heroes in King’s It and Dreamcatcher challenge, in some ways, “traditional concepts of hegemonic masculinity.” On the other hand, they assume “hegemonic masculinity” themselves by standing up to bullies. But King’s white, straight, male “loser hero” characters achieve their hero status “in part through the marginalisation of female characters, black characters, gay characters and characters with disabilities.” King’s male characters may modify the cultural ideal of hegemonic masculinity, Hansen writes, but they don’t transcend it.

Read the issue and Hansen’s essay.