Lowery Continues Research on Frat Life in Horror Films

Posted on 3/30/2009 11:22:48 AM

Dr. John Wesley Lowery, who joined IUP’s faculty this year as an associate professor in the Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education, is continuing recent research that explores the way higher education is represented in horror films, and specifically, the representation of sororities and fraternities.

As Dr. Lowery puts it, horror films portray higher education and “Greek” life like a mirror and a prism: a “mirror, for how these movies reflect society’s views on college and Greek life—if they didn’t reflect what society expected to see, the movies would never work. And a prism, for the way it serves to shape our expectations as well.” Although people accept the fact that most of the film could be exaggerated, they will still assume that there is some truth behind the suggestion of these organizations, so the general representations of these sororities and fraternities in horror films help shape expectations.

Dr. Lowery explained that his research has found that a film usually takes place at a stereotypical undergraduate college with a fraternity or sorority house as the main focus or setting of the most pivotal part of the film, or some isolated setting to which the fraternity or sorority has sent its members. This is because these settings are “an easy place for people to be isolated together for the killer” and are often sexualized in the films. There are also several stereotypical characters he found in almost every horror film: the tough girl, the Southern debutant, and the party girl.

Dr. Lowery has been teaching at the graduate level for nine years and was a fraternity chapter advisor at Bowling Green University. He plans to seek to have his research published as a journal article later in the year. What is his favorite horror film he has seen since his research began last summer? Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama from 1988.