As narrative texts are copied across online forums, they undergo modification, annotation, and reinterpretation by new posters in a folkloric process of repetition and variation. Though by definition legends deal largely with belief and possibility, the crowdsourced mythos behind creepypasta and Slender Man suggests a distinct awareness of fabrication. Slender Man is therefore a new kind of creation: one intentionally created as a fiction but with the look and feel of legend.
Slender Man Is Coming offers an unprecedented folkloristic take on Slender Man, analyzing him within the framework of contemporary legend studies, “creepypastas,” folk belief, and children’s culture. This first folkloric examination of the phenomenon of Slender Man is a must-read for anyone interested in folklore, horror, urban legends, new media, or digital cultures.
Contributors: Timothy H. Evans, Andrea Kitta, Mikel J. Koven, Paul Manning, Andrew Peck, Jeffrey A. Tolbert, Elizabeth Tucker
‘[A] timely volume of essays on an important topic—the contributors are doing groundbreaking folkloric work. By illuminating a contemporary phenomenon, these essays make us rethink our understandings of folkloric processes throughout history. The volume is perhaps one of the first dedicated to the Slender Man phenomenon (certainly the first by folklorists). . . . [T]he authors make significant contributions to theories of ostension, play, questions of real/fake, semiotics, community and individual creation, digital communication, cosplay, and transmedia studies.’
—Michael Dylan Foster, University of California, Davis
'This seminal work is a valuable read for people interested in legends, children’s folklore, or horror. Any folklorist particularly interested in ostensive practices, monsters, and digital folklore, to name a few, will find this work extremely useful.'
'Slender Man is Coming is essential and enjoyable reading for anyone working on belief, legend, the folkloresque, and related topics, but it can be recommended more widely, too. The book would be a useful outreach tool to offer those outside the discipline who are unaware of folkloristic thinking about legend ostension and crime, as it offers a brilliant informed view on the relationship between online narratives and violence in real life.'
'A valuable collection of the ongoing work to apply folkloristic concepts to the emerging field of discourse generated by the Internet. . . . The book is essential for legend scholars and for those documenting how tradition continues to penetrate and inform the Digital Revolution.'
—Journal of Folklore Research
‘Blank and McNeill's Slender Man Is Coming is remarkable for the approaches it opens up. . . . If the contributions in this excellent volume are to be taken as a guide, scholars of the speculative and the fantastic looking to study viral internet legends should be looking to folklorists for their cues.’
—The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
Lynne S. McNeill is assistant professor of English in the Folklore Program at Utah State University, cofounder of the Digital Folklore Project, and author of Folklore Rules. Her research interests include legend, belief, fandom, and digital folklore. Follow her on Twitter: @lynneSmcneill.
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