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Catherine Lester

Lecturer in Film and Television, University of Birmingham

I completed my PhD at the University of Warwick in 2016, which explored horror films made for children in Hollywood cinema. I was also a sessional tutor at Warwick from 2014-2018, and at the University of Worcester in 2017. Prior to doctoral study, I obtained a BA English and Film Studies and MA Popular Cultures at the University of Hull, before taking a brief sojourn into publishing in the areas of children’s books (Random House Children's Publishers, My Little Big Town) and academic journals (Taylor & Francis).

My primary research area is horror films for children in Hollywood cinema. This was the basis of my PhD thesis (available here) and I am developing this into a monograph, entitled Horror Films for Children: Fear and Pleasure in American Cinema, to be published by I.B. Tauris. My journal article on the subject in Velvet Light Trap (2016) was awarded runner-up for Best Doctoral Student Article 2018 by the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies and was short-listed for Screen’s Annette Kuhn Essay Award 2017.

I am continuing to explore the intersections between children’s media and the horror genre with ongoing projects on children’s horror anthology programmes (e.g. Goosebumps) and the relationship between animation and horror in children’s cinema. This interest in animated horror has led to a symposium on Watership Down (1978) which explores the production, aesthetics, reception and ongoing cultural legacy of this landmark of British animation. I am also interested in representations of gender and girlhood, with a particular focus on narratives of female companionship and solidarity in recent Disney animated films, such as Frozen (2013) and Moana (2016). In relation to this, I convened the Warwick Girlhood Reading Group and co-organised a conference on the theme of Girlhood, Media and Popular Culture at the University of Warwick in 2016.


  • –present
    Lecturer in Film and Television, University of Birmingham


  • 2017 
    University of Warwick, PhD Film and Television Studies