Slender Man Annotated Bibliography Benjamin O'Brien


ENGL 1030 -


20 February 2017

Annotated Bibliography

Beware the Slenderman. Directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky, Home Box Office, Jan. 2017.

HBO released a documentary in January of 2017 about two 12-year-old girls who tried to kill their friend in order to please Slender Man. They truly believed that he existed and set out to find his mansion in the woods after stabbing their friend of the same age 19 times. The documentary focuses more on the attempted murder case than Slender Man but it is nonetheless crucial to research because it presents a shocking real life account of his impact on society and culture.

Key Terms:

Stabbing - Two 12 year old girls were arrested for stabbing their friend 19 times

Slender Man - The two girls said that they stabbed their friend to please Slender Man

Mind of a child - Children have access to the internet and often have difficulty determining whether or not something is actually real or made up


“We came upon a 12 year old female… She appears to be stabbed” (Beware the Slenderman).

“They don’t know how to differentiate between fantasy and reality” (Beware the Slenderman).

“Anissa said that we had to. She said that he’d kill our families” (Beware the Slenderman).

This documentary was published by HBO, thus automatically giving it credibility. A documentary published and featured by a company as big as HBO likely must meet a certain criteria and reach a high standard of research material. The credibility of documentary is again verified because it contains interviews and accounts from people directly involved with the stabbing incident.

Chess, Shira. "OPEN-SOURCING HORROR: The Slender Man, Marble Hornets, and Genre Negotiations." Information, Communication & Society, vol. 15, no. 3, 2012., pp. 374-393doi:10.1080/1369118X.2011.642889.

This article explains how Slender Man was born on a public forum in 2009 as well as how the monster has developed. The article mainly relates the case of Slender Man to the idea of Open Source Software development. It expresses that the two have collaboration and openness in common, as well as the fact that they both became a sort of movement. The article then goes on to discuss Slender Man alongside C. R. Miller’s analysis of rhetorical genre and explains how Slender Man’s story differs from other legends in the sense that every detail can be traced back to a timestamp.

Key Terms:

Marble Hornets - A YouTube miniseries based off of Slender Man

Victor Surge - The creator of Slender Man

Something Awful - The forum where Victor Surge posted the first image of Slender Man


“Like Open Source software, the open-sourcing of storytelling involves reuse, modification, sharing of source code, an openness (and transparency) of infrastructure, and the negotiation and collaboration of many individuals” (Chess).

“Additionally, the time stamping on forums allows researchers a tool that other media do not have: real-time responses, discussions, and additions are traceable and can be applied to genre theory” (Chess).

“The children appear to be unaware of his presence” (Chess).

Although there is no note of who Shira Chess is or her credibility, she is published in the 15th volume of a journal titled, Information, Communication, and Society. She also listed 28 sources for her article which implies that a fair amount of research was done. Many of those sources, however, are citations of forum usernames, making up much of the seemingly large list of sources. Overall, the fact that the article was published in the 15th edition of a journal provides sufficient evidence that the author, as well as the article itself, are valid sources.

Marble Hornets. “Entry #1.” YouTube, 20 June 2009,

Marble Hornets is a YouTube channel that presents the idea of Slender Man through out of order video entries. The general background of these clips is that the friend of the person posting the video was making a movie for a college project. He ended up dropping the project entirely and was said to have been irritable throughout the process. The person posting the entries asks his friend (Alex) if he could have the clips, and is granted them under the condition that he cannot ever talk about it again. The first entry of the series is cited, as there was no real way to cite the entire channel. The early episodes of this miniseries have millions of views and slowly decreases in view count as the series goes on. This trend likely follows the same trend of Slender Man’s popularity, peaking shortly after his creation. Marble Hornets is important to the shaping of Slender Man’s identity because it was created so shortly after the monster was created.

Key Terms:

Alex - The person who supposedly taped the footage

Jay - The person who is posting the entries and trying to make sense of the footage

‘Strange Footage’ - Slender Man is not actually named in this series, though tapes containing him are noted to have strange footage


“I found another tape containing strange footage and no audio track” (Marble Hornets).

“He told me it was due to the ‘unworkable conditions’ on his set, which was less than a mile away from his house” (Marble Hornets).

“And after some coercing he agreed to give them to me. Under the condition that I never mention it to him again” (Marble Hornets).

The credibility of Marble Hornets is backed by its following. With millions of views on YouTube, the creators of the show have essentially reached contributor status. They are a part of the shaping of the identity of Slender Man, revealing miniscule amounts of information through clips of video and audio containing little to no explanation. This mystery and lack of detail appear to be what make the show so popular.

Peck, Andrew. "Tall, dark, and loathsome: the emergence of a legend cycle in the digital age." Journal of American Folklore, vol. 128, no. 509, 2015, p. 333+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

This source gives a more detailed explanation of how Slender Man was created and how he has developed as more people contributed. This source is similar to the essay written by Tina Boyer, but differs in the sense that it provides a dialogue from the original forum thread. Proposed ideas on how Slender Man was shaped into a modern legend were backed up with actual examples of dialogue. The extracted dialogue also helps to show the unwritten rules that die hard contributors seemed to live by.

Key Terms:

mutable rules - evolved rules that came to be understood without ever being laid out

Slender Man Legend Performance - individuals using Slender Man as part of a network to express and create a dialogue

Hybridity - There is a constant theme in this essay that Slender Man is a hybrid sort of creature based off of many different things, giving him depth and mystery.


“...the lack of a defined set of characteristics made the character more accessible” (Peck).

“...imagining the creature collaboratively was highly encouraged. Users would often build on the performances of others or create performative fragments for others to complete” (Peck).

“Like a game with concealed and mutable rules, users learned what made for good posts by observing the content of others” (Peck).

This essay has credibility because it was published in volume 128 of the Journal of American Folklore. Also, Andrew Peck is a PhD candidate in the Department of communication Arts at the university of Wisconsin-Madison. A PhD candidate has much experience in his field. It is fitting that he is in the department of communication arts as this essay discusses how Slender Man was created through online communication and collaboration.

Tina Marie Boyer. “The Anatomy of a Monster: The Case of Slender Man.” Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural, vol. 2, no. 2, 2013, pp. 240–261.

This essay compares the creation of Slender Man to that of typical folklore. It discusses how newly created monsters are, to some extent, created backwards. The idea comes first and then the heritage or origin is filled in later. This source also mentions the inspiration behind Slender Man and compares him to existing folklore. The essay suggests the idea that people try to assign Slender Man to existing monsters in order to create this backstory. This source finds that there is a surprising similarity between the oral telling of a story and the online development of a story.

Key Terms:

‘Fakelore’ - a narrative that is made to look real but is not

Windigo - a person who transforms into a monster because of cannibalism

Know Your Meme - a website that interviewed Victor Surge on the creation of Slender Man


“Since Slender Man is a prohibitive monster, but without a clear explanation as to what lines may or may not be crossed, the arbitrariness of his actions and characteristics offered a variety of possible backgrounds” (Tina Marie Boyer).

“In some cases, the materials are so authentic that some of the audience has difficulty differentiating between fiction and reality” (Tina Marie Boyer).

“Over the last years of Slender Man's development the characteristics of the monster have stayed relatively stable as a thin, gigantic figure, with multiple appendages (arms and legs), lurking in the background (usually between trees or in the forest), wearing a black suit and tie” (Tina Marie Boyer).

The fact that Tina Marie Boyer is published gives her credibility, as this source is published by Penn State University Press in the second volume of a book. Tina Boyer is Assistant Professor of Medieval German Literature at Wake Forest University. Her primary research focuses on depictions of monstrous identities in Middle High German epics and romances. Most of her sources are not formally cited and are mixed in with a total of 46 notes at the end of the essay. She also thanks those who gave additional information or critique for their help in shaping the essay, suggesting that there may have been slight collaboration. It appears that Tina Boyer is a credible source because she is a professor and is published with a background in monstrous identities.


Created with images by State Farm - "The Slender Man - Teryn Cochron" • Brian Rinker - "Sketchbook #2"

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