SUNY Potsdam English and Communication Professor Trevor Blank Publishes New Book on Slender Man Phenomenon

Dr. Trevor Blank Edits New Book, 'Slender Man is Coming: Creepypasta and Contemporary Legends on the Internet,' Published by Utah State University Press

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POTSDAM, NY (09/25/2018) SUNY Potsdam Associate Professor of English and Communication Dr. Trevor J. Blank is the editor of a new volume, "Slender Man is Coming: Creepypasta and Contemporary Legends on the Internet," published by Utah State University Press.

"This book is the first volume to address the Slender Man phenomenon from the perspective of folklore studies, and is the culmination of three years of collaborative lectures, conferences and good old-fashioned research by a number of folklore scholars who contributed," Blank said.

Blank co-edited the work along with Lynn S. McNeill, an assistant professor of English at Utah State University and the co-founder of the Digital Folklore Project. The essays in the new volume explore the menacing figure of Slender Man -- the blank-faced, long-limbed bogeyman born of a 2009 Photoshop contest who has appeared in countless horror stories circulated on- and offline.

Slender Man is arguably the best-known example in circulation of "creepypasta," a genre of Internet folklore in which people share short scary stories and memes. The figure became notorious after "inspiring" two young Wisconsin girls to stab a 12-year-old friend in 2014.

As narrative texts are copied across online forums, they undergo a folkloric process of repetition and variation. Though legends deal largely with belief and possibility, the crowdsourced mythos behind creepypasta and Slender Man suggests a distinct awareness of fabrication. Blank and McNeill write that Slender Man is therefore a new kind of creation: one intentionally created as a fiction, but with the look and feel of legend.

"One of the defining characteristics of folklore is what we call repetition and variation, the idea that something appears multiple times, but it evolves as new people interpret it and share it themselves. In that regard, Slender Man was kind of a perfect test case for that. Because what people saw was the image, and the general rough backstory that he kidnapped kids… and used that as an imprint to create literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of different stories," Blank said.

"Slender Man is Coming" offers an unprecedented folkloristic take on Slender Man, analyzing the figure within the framework of contemporary legend studies, "creepypastas," folk belief and children's culture.

In addition to the new volume, Blank is the author of "Toward a Conceptual Framework for the Study of Folklore and the Internet," and "The Last Laugh: Folk Humor, Celebrity Culture and Mass-Mediated Disasters in the Digital Age." He was the keynote speaker for the 2015 Folklore and Mythology Annual Symposium at Harvard University, and is the editor of Children's Folklore Review.

Blank has been featured in interviews with numerous media outlets about the Slender Man phenomenon, including Wired, Slate and the BBC. He was also interviewed for the 2016 HBO documentary, "Beware the Slenderman."

To learn more about Blank's research and approach to teaching at SUNY Potsdam, visit

SUNY Potsdam's Department of English and Communication challenges its students to complete a core of courses that explore the varied ways people speak, write and read. The department offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Arts programs in literature, writing, professional writing, creative writing, speech communication and English and communication. For more information, visit

About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges -- and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit