Skip to main content

Unfiction and Religion

Meg Sigler
Meg Sigler
Faculty Advisor(s)

Unfiction and its derivative genres are becoming increasingly popular among the public and academics, though there is a gap in the research on its association with religious studies. Using definitions of religion set by nineteenth and twentieth-century scholars, this research aims to connect unfiction, horror, fear, and religion. Specifically, this research focuses on the communities surrounding these genres, how these genres use religious themes while also exploring how religion uses horror to create fear and community. This research used the works of renowned religious scholars like Durkheim, Geertz, and Turner, a multi-platform unfiction project entitled TribeTwelve, horror movies like The Exorcist, and religious texts from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. These sources allow for the conclusion that horror and unfiction use religion, as defined by religious scholars, to create large and interconnected communities that strive to find deeper meaning in these genre’s works, not unlike how religious texts use horror to a similar effect. This research is a first step in filling the gap between new types of media horror and religious studies.


Meg Sigler is a graduating senior from Kernersville, North Carolina that majors in History and Religious Studies. She plans to go to graduate school for Higher Education Administration and long walks on the beach. Her mother says she's very funny, smart, and talented.


I had not heard of "unfiction", but now I understand that I'm familiar with it. That you used "The Blair Witch Project" as an example makes me happy--not that I liked the movie much, but the pre-release materials had me thinking that there was some paranormal event that I'd never heard of, and I had thought I was familiar with most!

Take some of those long walks on the beach you mention--you've earned them!

Submitted by Paula_Young on Tue, 04/13/2021 - 20:56 Permalink

Very interesting! I can see how the two definitions you used helped you analyze the phenomenon. Do you think that the followers of a particular unfiction narrative constitute a religious group? 

Submitted by richard.vinson… on Wed, 04/14/2021 - 13:37 Permalink

I never realized that there was a name for unfiction! I hadn't thought of making comparisons between Slender Man and religion, but now it makes sense. Would you consider the 1938 presentation of War of the Worlds as unfiction even though no one presenting it said it was real?

Submitted by kathleenwagner on Wed, 04/14/2021 - 19:30 Permalink

Dear Meg - I love your creativity and insight in this work! I had no idea about unfiction before now, and love the examples you utilized with the connection with religion. And I appreciate you watching those movies :)

Submitted by Amy Rio on Thu, 04/15/2021 - 18:02 Permalink