Seeing the Apocalypse: Essays on Bird Box is the first volume to explore Josh Malerman’s best-selling novel and its recent film adaptation, which broke streaming records and became a cultural touchstone, emerging as a staple in the genre of contemporary horror. The essays in this collection offer an interdisciplinary approach to Bird Box, one that draws on the fields of gender studies, cultural studies, and disability studies. The contributors examine how Bird Box provokes questions about a range of issues including the human body and its existence in the world, the ethical obligations that shape community, and the anxieties arising from technological development. Taken together, the essays of this volume show how a critical examination of Bird Box offers readers a guide for thinking through human experience in our own troubled, apocalyptic times.
Brandon R. Grafius is assistant professor of biblical studies at Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit.
Gregory Stevenson is professor of religion and Greek at Rochester University.
Introduction: The Body’s Apocalyptic Vulnerability
Brandon Grafius and Gregory Stevenson
1Bird Box and the Imperative of SightKen Junior Lipenga
2Feeling the (Post)Apocalypse: The Affective Dimensions of Bird Box
Rachel Elizabeth Barraclough
3The Blind Leading the Blindfolded: Representing Disability in Contemporary Horror Films
Rebecca L. Willoughby
4Making the End of the World Great Again: Birdbox, Borders, and the Refugee Crisis
5Mother, Monster Within/Monster, Mother Without: Bird Box and Maternal Fear
6Bird Box, WR Bion, and the Sublime
7“It’s Too Bad We’re Not Horses”: The Animal as Witness in Bird Box
8The Horror of Smartphones and Voice Assistants: Technophobia and Disability in Bird Box and A Quiet Place
Paul Muhlhauser and Marya Kuratova
9Consumed by Memes: How Bird Box Reflects the Current Acceptance and Anxiety Toward Internet-Distributed Film and Television
Bird Box was more than just a popular Netflix film, it was a global phenomenon. Seeing the Apocalypse: Essays on Bird Box brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to shed light on the ways the film connected with social anxieties around disability, community, technology, and other issues. This volume provides invaluable insights into not only Bird Box but also the broader trend of apocalyptic horror in the 21st century.
This outstanding collection on Bird Box explores the film as an important genre piece, a rare sense-deprivation type of apocalyptic body horror that uniquely celebrates disability, while calling our attention to the reality that when society breaks down, the structures that protect us crumble along with it. Like Bird Box itself, the strength of this inventive and beautifully crafted volume lies in the ideal casting of its contributors and the solid concept of the content. Film fans, students, and researchers will find Grafius’ and Stevenson's radical new volume, which was written during a real-world pandemic, lively, accessible, and fascinating!
Josh Malerman’s novel Bird Box and Susanne Biers’ Netflix adaptation became a cultural phenomenon in 2018. Editors Grafius and Stevenson have gathered a remarkable set of essays that explore how Bird Box participates in larger cultural dialogues on topics such as motherhood, disability, and the environment. The contributors’ powerful investigations reframe the film, transforming how we see it and revealing what it says about the world. If anything, the implications of this insightful volume render both the film and our reality that much more terrifying.