Boris Karloff: The Many Faces of a Film Icon – A Critical Symposium

Plymouth, UK / ONLINE, 1. April 2022.

A final reminder for anyone who is interested, this Friday 1st April there is a full-day online symposium dedicated to the life and career of classic horror icon Boris Karloff. Keynotes include Dr Alison Peirse (University of Leeds) and Karloff biographer Stephen Jacobs as well as a full day of other papers from academics and artists.

Registration for 'Boris Karloff: The Many Faces of a Film Icon' remains open (details via the link below) and it would great to see some additional faces there. Feel free to share with anyone you think will be interested and let me know if you have any questions.

All best,
Dr Eddie Falvey
Lecturer in the School of Arts and Media
Plymouth College of Art, UK


Taking place online on Friday 1st April 2022, Plymouth College of Art presents Boris Karloff: The Many Faces of a Film Icon, an online symposium dedicated to one of the great stars of the classic era.

Supported by keynote addresses from all-round horror expert Dr Alison Pierse (University of Leeds) and acclaimed biographer Stephen Jacobs (author of Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster), the day will draw together a range of approaches to Karloff and his work from academics and artists alike. Accompanying the day of papers, you will have access to our dedicated website where we will showcase a selection of archival materials, as well as artist responses to Karloff and his career.

Sign-up here for the event via Eventbrite:

Join us and embark on a Karlovian odyssey in which we will explore various aspects of the fascinating life and career of one of the most enduring figures of screen culture.

Contact: for additional information, contact Dr Eddie Falvey (



Due to a few requests, we have extended the call for papers to 28th January 2022.

Hosted by Plymouth College of Art, UK. To take place at Plymouth College of Art’s Tavistock Place location on 1st April 2022.

Keynotes to include: - Dr. Alison Pierse (University of Leeds), author of After Dracula: The 1930s Horror Film (2013) and editor of Women Make Horror (2020). - Stephen Jacobs, author of Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster (2010; second edition forthcoming) and The Karloff Compendium (forthcoming, 2022), as well as guest in and historical consultant on the documentary Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster (dir. Thomas Hamilton, 2021).
Other symposium attractions to include: - A full day academic symposium with panel discussions on various aspects of Karloff’s life and career. - Associated screenings of Karloff features to take place on the evenings of Thursday 31st March and Friday 1st April at the Plymouth Arts Cinema, located at our main site (film titles TBC). - Examples of practice-based approaches to Karloff’s life and work with accompanying discussions.
- A display of new archival materials relating to Karloff.
- Lunch and refreshments on the day (delegate fees TBA ​in due course).

Boris Karloff was born William Henry Pratt in 1887, in the village of Camberwell, Surrey (now South London). Most often remembered as the star of Frankenstein (dir. James Whale, 1931) and two of its sequels (Bride of Frankenstein in 1935 and Son of Frankenstein in 1939), Karloff’s career spanned more than half a century, from the silent era to New Hollywood where he worked with Peter Bogdanovich on the highly experimental film Targets (1968), in what proved to be one of his final, though no less impressive, feature performances. Beside Whale and Bogdanovich, Karloff traversed a range of industry contexts where he worked under a number of significant directors over the course of his career, including Mario Bava, Roger Corman, Michael Curtiz, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Michael Reeves, Douglas Sirk, Jacques Tourneur, and Robert Wise. For many, Karloff was and remains “one of the screen’s greatest madmen” (Darryl Jones, 2002). While Karloff’s star image is mostly intertwined with the horror genre, this dedicated symposium hopes to invite both new perspectives on some of the actor’s most iconic roles, as well as draw attention to the many other faces of Boris Karloff, both on- and off-screen. It is our aim to demonstrate that Karloff was more than the sum of his most famous parts, that the mercurial man who gave a “profoundly sympathetic performance” (Jones) as Frankenstein’s infamous monster was an actor with impressive range that is demonstrated by a rich and expansive filmography.

After several delays relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, this revamped event will take place on Friday 1st April 2022 at the Plymouth College of Art. With keynote speakers Dr. Alison Pierse (Unversity of Leeds) and Stephen Jacobs (acclaimed author of Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster) confirmed, we hope that the day will draw together a range of additional speakers, both new and established, who are interested in various aspects of Karloff’s life and career. In correspondence with this event, we will showcase a selection of archival materials relating to Karloff and his career and will offer accompanying screenings of some of his feature films.
It is our hope that this symposium will lead to publication opportunities for some of its speakers. Though we are still in early discussions at this point, Boris Karloff: The Many Faces of a Film Icon has already attracted the attention of a publisher interested in attending and optioning an edited collection following the event.

Topics for presentations may include, but are not limited to:

- Any of Karloff’s feature films
- Karloff and his collaborators (co-stars, directors, producers, etc.) - Karloff in Hollywood
- Marketing Karloff - Karloff and film stardom, or uses of his star image
- Karloff’s performances, including as a silent film star through to his late-career performances
- Karloff and franchises
- Karloff as a horror icon
- Karloff as a transnational star
- Karloff and masculinity
- Karloff and race
- Karloff and monstrosity
- Archival work on Karloff
- Writing on Karloff, including biographies
- Your own suggested idea

Submission Details:

We would like to invite papers proposals for 20 minute presentations of approximately 250 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement. The deadline for proposals is Friday 14th January 2022 (with confirmation to follow shortly after). Please address proposals and/or any inquiries to the dedicated mailbox at under the subject heading “Boris Karloff Symposium”, and/or cc in Dr Eddie Falvey at, who will reply to any questions on behalf of the organising panel.

Disclaimer: Due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, this event has seen several delays. This re-launch comes with a revised date, which we hope will attract a number of new speakers and attendees. The organisers have kept records of previous correspondence and will personally re-invite those who expressed interest in and/or submitted abstracts for the original event. For further information, do not hesitate to contact the organisers whose information is available above.