Gothic and Horror Videogames:
A substantial body of Ewan’s research publications explore critical approaches to survival horror videogames, particularly focussing on the Silent Hill series. In this area Ewan has considered issues of narrative, gender and racial representations, ethics, discourses of art, self-reflexivity and immersion. His work on horror games has appeared in Games and Culture, Convergence, Camera Obscura and Gothic Studies.
Ewan has also spoken at conferences and conventions, presenting papers on media paratexts, racial whiteness, psychoanalysis, and analogue remediation in digital games. One of his earliest papers on Silent Hill examined the extent traditional approaches to storytelling, the horror genre and the depiction of women in popular culture can be applied to the videogame. Subsequent studies have explored the depiction of men and masculinity throughout the series, strategies by which the franchise was constructed as a prestige art game, and the ways the games express a self-reflexivity consistent with the horror genre. A recent paper examined Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and its reflection upon processes of memory, trauma and Freudian psychoanalysis.
Ewan’s essay on the relationship between horror videogames and literature was included in a reader on Gothic culture published by Routledge. Expanding upon this paper, Ewan’s current project explores various videogames’ relation to traditions of Gothic literature. Haunting Ground is considered as reproducing early Gothic narratives of helpless maidens, trapped in spooky castles, pursued by nefarious villains. Bioshock continues Gothic fiction’s critique of aristocratic decadence, capitalism, and the corruption of nature through modernity. Gone Home is a haunted house story which echoes traditional Gothic associations between the ghost and lesbian identity. Finally, Night in the Woods represents a more contemporary American example of Rust Belt Gothic.
Ewan also writes on children’s culture, exploring the relationship between film, television and digital media targeted at child audiences. This is a continuation of his PhD analysing the representation and construction of childhood through children's cinema. His work is concerned with the continuities across different forms of media for children, the ways in which such culture reflects dominant ideas about children and childhood, and the pleasures for adults in consuming children’s entertainment. His work also explores relationships between film and television aimed at young people, toys, merchandising, multi-media spinoffs and other ancillary products.
Publications in this area have included chapters on the screen persona of Robin Williams, crossovers between television and digital games in the Dora the Explorer franchise, and the ‘girl power’ politics of The Powerpuff Girls. He has presented academic papers on Toy Story, nostalgia in children’s media, Charlie and Lola, The Lego Movie and the ‘toys to life’ phenomenon. In 2017 much of this work was consolidated in a substantial study, Children’s Media and Modernity, which contains studies of The Children’s Film Foundation, Wallace and Gromit, Hook, Teletubbies, Little Big Planet, the CBeebies website and Disney Infinity.
Most recently Ewan completed a paper on Bronie fandom, animation and child audiences, and the relationship between feminine cultures and Hasbro’s My Little Pony franchise. Ewan is a regular speaker at MLP fan conventions, and in 2014 hosted the first academic conference exploring the 30 year-old franchise, an event which attracted attention from the national press, and resulted in a publication in The Journal of Popular Television. Presently he is working on a paper which deconstructs the events and fan activities at the UK Ponycon, the country’s longest-running MLP fan convention.
In October 2018 the Screen Archive South East acquired an archive of posters, programmes and other documents from the Duke of York’s Cinema in Brighton. This contained records of the films screened at the cinema, dating back as far as the 1980s. Currently Ewan is in the process of collating this material. Of particular interest is the ways printed programmes reveal how films have been curated and presented throughout the decades. These documents provide a record of what films were shown as part of the ‘art house’ bill, along with specialist screenings such as late-night showings, kids clubs, double bills, matinees and other events. They reveal connections between the cinema and other institutions such as film and arts festivals, television broadcasters and live theatre. Ewan is currently in the process of organising a long-term research project to investigate, collate and disseminate this material.
Ewan's academic interests also include representations of race, gender and sexuality in popular culture. Of particular concern are dominant identities such as masculinity, heterosexuality and ethnic whiteness, and the ways these are depicted across the media. In this area Ewan has published and presented papers on race and Dexter, Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as heterosexuality in romantic comedy, and concepts of monogamy in science fiction cinema. Recently Ewan published an essay on Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck in an edited collection on the action woman in popular film and television.
As well as publishing, Ewan is also active in organising and co-chairing academic events, which have included conferences on media technologies, science fiction and memory, and the television show Battlestar Galactica. Between 2011 and 2015 Ewan co-organised a conference series on racial whiteness held at Oxford University as part of an interdisciplinary series of academic events. Since joining the University of Brighton in 2010 Ewan has held conferences and symposia on zombies in popular culture, nostalgia in art and media, and screen fantasy. Ewan also regularly attends non-academic events such as UK Ponycon, Nine Worlds and conventions on horror and science fiction.