Dr Catherine Lester

Dr Catherine Lester

Department of Film and Creative Writing
Lecturer in Film and Television

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My current research focuses on the intersections between children’s culture and the horror genre. My other teaching and research interests include children’s cinema, animation, and representation in film and television.


  • PhD Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick
  • MA Popular Cultures, University of Hull
  • BA English and Film Studies, University of Hull


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).


  • Introduction to Film (Year One)
  • Film Theory and Criticism (Year Two)
  • Children’s Film and Television (Year Three)

Postgraduate supervision

Children's media, horror, genre studies, animation, representation in film and television


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/Bloomsbury. 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 issues of representation in children's cinema, animation and popular culture more broadly.



Horror Films for Children: Fear and Pleasure in American Cinema. London: I.B. Tauris (under contract).

Chapters in Books

‘Frozen Hearts and Fixer Uppers: Villainy, gender, and female companionship in Disney’s Frozen’ in Discussing Disney, ed. Amy M. Davis. New Barnet: John Libbey Publishing (forthcoming).

Journal Articles

‘The Children's Horror Film: characterizing an “impossible” sub-genre’, The Velvet Light Trap 78 (2016), 22-37.

Online Articles

‘The Subversive Horror of Fantasy and Animation’, Fantasy/Animation Research Network. 20 July 2018. Available at: https://www.fantasy-animation.org/blog/2018/7/16/the-subversive-horror-of-fantasy-and-animation

Frozen (2013), Paratexts, and Female Solidarity in Disney’s Princess Films’, Animation Studies 2.0. 21 May 2018. Available at: https://blog.animationstudies.org/?p=2497

‘Scary children’s media: what are we so afraid of?’, The Children’s Media Foundation. 25 April 2016. Available at: https://research.thechildrensmediafoundation.org/catherinelester/scary-childrens-media-afraid-2552

I have also written a number of reviews and essays for AlternateTakes.co.uk, most recently an essay on the childlike address and aesthetics of My Life as a Courgette (2016): http://www.alternatetakes.co.uk/?2017,9,671

View all publications in research portal