RIP Michel Legrand

It was sad to hear of the death of Michel Legrand (1932-2019) on Saturday. Legrand wrote the music to countless films, many from French New Wave cinema. His music fits perfectly the stylish and witty reinterpretation of Perrault’s fairy tale ‘Donkey Skin’, Peau d’Ane (1970) directed by Legrand’s frequent collaborator Jacques Demy. Here’s a scene from the film with one of Legrand’s songs, featuring the enchanting Catherine Deneuve.

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CFPs: Myth and dream, horror, Dracula and vampires, youth horror

A few CFPs for conferences and calls for articles:

1. Myth and Dream / The Dreaming of Myth, 23-24 May 2019, University of Bologna. Deadline: 28 February 2019.

The conference invites proposals addressing diverse approaches to the combination of myth and dream – literary, artistic, scientific or theological – that enjoy attention in the contemporary world.

2. Fear 2000: Contemporary Horror Worldwide, 1-2 June 2019, Sheffield Hallam University. Deadline: 1 March 2019.

We invite proposals for 20 minute papers and 80 minute panels for the fourth annual Fear 2000 conference at Sheffield Hallam University – Fear 2000: Contemporary Horror Worldwide. Hosted by staff and postgraduate students in the Department of Humanities, the conference will investigate international horror cinema in the twenty-first century.

3. Call for articles for Journal of Dracula Studies. Deadline: 1 May 2019.

We invite manuscripts of scholarly articles (4000-6000 words) on any of the following: Bram Stoker, the novel Dracula, the historical Dracula, the vampire in folklore, fiction, film, popular culture, and related topics.

4. Call for contributions to an edited collection on Critical Approaches to Youth Horror. Deadline: 17 June 2019.

We are looking for a broad base of scholarship from emerging and advanced scholars. We are open to chapters that include different types of media, but prefer chapters focused on popular youth horror film and television.

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CFPs: Vampires, Gothic feminism, zombies, youth horror, creative work

A set of conference CFPs and call for articles:

1. Academic Vampire Conference: Hammer, Highgate, and the Vampire, 10-13 July 2019, Lauderdale House, Highgate Village. Deadline: 3 May 2019.

The University of South Wales, in association with the IVFAF, calls for papers by scholars interested in presenting their researched essays on vampire literature, film, folklore, theatre, games, graphic novels, lifestyle, fashion, music and wider art in the fourth annual Vampire Academic Conference (VAC) that runs alongside the festival in London.

2. Gothic Feminism 3: Technology, Women and Gothic-Horror On-Screen, 2-3 May 2019, University of Kent. Deadline: 15 February 2019.

Our conference aims to explore this relationship between technology and the Gothic by focussing upon its intersection as depicted on screen within visual media, with a specific focus on how such concerns impact on gender representations and, in particular, women.

3. Call for Articles – special edition of Revenant: Revolution in the Dead: The Cultural Evolution of the Zombie. Deadline: 30 April 2019.

Revenant ( is now accepting abstracts for articles, creative writing pieces, and book, film, game, or event reviews for a themed issue on zombies, examining the social and cultural evolution of the zombie.

4. Call for chapters in an edited collection: Critical Approaches to Youth Horror. Deadline: 17 June 2019

In the midst of a renewed interest in horror as a medium for the expression of cultural and social issues, this collection will take advantage of an underdeveloped field of scholarship and create new scholarly conversations focused on youth and young adult television and horror film.

5. Reimagining the Gothic 2019: Creative Competition, University of Sheffield. Deadline: 11 March 2019.

Sheffield Gothic is delighted to announce our 2019 Reimagining the Gothic creative competition!
Each year as part of Reimagining the Gothic we hold a creative showcase: an opportunity to explore the theme through various creative methods. This year, that theme is ‘Returns, Revenge, Reckonings’ – think everything from Senecan tragedies to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from noble avengers to usurping Counts, from vengeful lovers to prophetic witches.

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‘Polidori, the Byronic vampire & its progeny’ April 6th-7th 2019

‘Some curious disquiet’: Polidori, the Byronic vampire, and its progeny A symposium for the bicentenary of The Vampyre’

6-7 April 2019, Keats House, Hampstead

We’re beyond excited to announce our next event (above) in the spring. John Polidori published his tale The Vampyre in 1819. It is well known that his vampire emerged out of the same storytelling contest at the Villa Diodati in 1816 that gave birth to that other archetype of the Gothic heritage, Frankenstein’s monster. Present at this gathering were Polidori (who was Byron’s physician), Mary Godwin, Frankenstein’s author; Claire Clairmont, Percy Shelley, and (crucially) Lord Byron.

Byron’s contribution to the contest was an inconclusive fragment about a mysterious man characterised by ‘a curious disquiet’. Polidori took this fragment and turned it into the tale of the vampire Lord Ruthven, preying on the vulnerable women of society. The Vampyre was something of a sensation (partially owing to its misattribution to Byron) and spawned stage versions and imitations that were hugely popular.

Sir Christopher Frayling declares The Vampyre to be ‘the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre’. This could be qualified; if short political satires and ethnographical enquiries featuring the monster constitute genres, then these had already emerged out of folkloric accounts during the eighteenth century. But Polidori gave the creature the form that largely persists through subsequent vampire narratives, transforming it from the animalistic monster of the Slavic peasantry to something that can haunt the drawing rooms of Western society, undetected. Polidori’s Lord Ruthven, modelled on Lord Byron via Lady Caroline Lamb’s scandalous Glenarvon (1818), is aristocratic and sexualised and, though something of a blank canvas, even potentially sympathetic, providing a template for the ‘Byronic hero’ that features in Gothic romance down to the paranormal romances of the present day. Thus, the familiar vampires Count Dracula (1897), Anne Rice’s Lestat (1976), and the infamously sparkly Edward Cullen of Twilight (2005) can all claim to have been his heir.

This symposium will trace Polidori’s bloodsucking progeny and his heritage of ‘curious disquiet’ in literature and other media. It is a return to the beginnings of the Open Graves, Open Minds Project, which began with a legendary conference on vampires in 2010 followed by an edited collection, Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day, ed. by Sam George and Bill Hughes (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013) and the first special issue of Gothic Studies devoted to vampires (May 2013).

When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
When move in a sweet body fit for life,
And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife
Of hearts and lips!
(John Keats, Lamia)

Guest speakers have been invited to share their research into the many variations on monstrosity and deadly allure spawned by Polidori’s seminal textual reincarnation of Byronic glamour. We have invited Sir Christopher Frayling, the father of vampire scholarship, to give a keynote, together with a host of very special delegates, selected for their expertise in the Byronic, the Gothic, and the vampiric. They include but are not limited to the following: Prof. Catherine Spooner, Prof. William Hughes, Dr Stacey Abbott, Dr Sue Chaplin, Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, Prof. Nick Groom, Prof. Gina Wisker, Dr Sam George, Dr Bill Hughes, Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, writer Marcus Sedgwick, and OGOM ECRs and doctoral students Dr Kaja Franck, Matt Beresford, Daisy Butcher, and Dr Jillian Wingfield.

The Symposium is being held at the beautiful Keats House, Hampstead (where OGOM held a symposium for Bram Stoker’s centenary in 2012). Keats House is where the poet John Keats lived from 1818 to 1820, and is the setting that inspired some of Keats’s most memorable poetry. Here, Keats wrote ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, and fell in love with Fanny Brawne, the girl next door. It was from this house that he travelled to Rome, where he died of tuberculosis aged just 25. The poet John Keats created one incarnation of the vampire in his Lamia (1820).

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The event will include a tour of Keats House (who hold a first edition of The Vampyre) and a trip to Highgate Cemetery, home of the Highgate Vampire (a sensation of the 1970s), and where Karl Marx (who made good use of the vampire metaphor) and Lizzie Siddal lie. Lizzie wrote poetry and is known as the muse of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He famously buried his poems with her when she died from laudanum poisoning in 1862. He later exhumed her grave and she was said to have not decomposed, her beautiful auburn hair had not faded. This story has been linked to the description of the vampire Lucy in her coffin in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Tim Powers‘s 2012 novel Hide Me Among the Graves claims that Rossetti exhumed her not to regain his poems but to defeat a vampire, her husband’s uncle, John Polidori! Douglas Adams, Christina Rossetti, and other luminaries also lie in the cemetery, in peace (we hope).

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Merry Christmas!!

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Merry Christmas everyone from the OGOM Project!!!

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CFPs: Magical cities, coastal folklore, folk horror, folklore and the fantastic, Walpole

Some more CFPs to tempt you:

1. From the brilliant people at Supernatural Cities (who were such good partners at our Urban Weird conference in April this year), the Magical Cities conference, 15 June 2019, University of Portsmouth. Deadline: 31 January 2019

The University of Portsmouth’s Supernatural Cities research group presents their fourth conference: Magical Cities. This one-day conference seeks to explore the magical potential of urban environments.

2. OGOM have a particular fondness for selkies and mermaids, so this conference at at the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tale and Fantasy, University of Chichester on maritime and coastal folklore looks fascinating: The Fabled Coast: Coastal and Maritime Folklore, Superstitions and Customs, 27 April 2019. Deadline: 25 January 2019

Taking its name from Sophia Kingshill’s and Jennifer Westwood’s seminal book The Fabled Coast, this conference will explore the abundance of folktales, legends, myths, songs and re-imaginings associated with coastal areas and maritime traditions and practices around the world.

3. Folk horror is another genre/area that we have been interested in recently. This conference looks excellent: Folk Horror in the 21st Century, Falmouth University 5-6 September 2019. Deadline: 1 April 2019

The conference organizers Ruth Heholt (Falmouth University, UK) and Dawn Keetley (Lehigh University, USA) invite proposals on all aspects of folk horror, in all periods, across all regions and in all mediums, exploring the meanings and manifestations of the folk horror renaissance in the 21st century.

4. This time, a call for articles for the Gramarye journal. It’s from the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tale and Fantasy again, seeking ‘articles and book reviews relating to creative, literary and historical approaches to folklore, fairy tales, fantasy, gothic, science fiction and magic realism for publication in Gramarye, its peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Chichester’.

5. On the founder of the Gothic novel, there’s a conference at Horace Walpole’s Gothic villa at Strawberry Hill: Text Artefact Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century, 15 February 2019 – 16 February 2019. No deadline visible, so best to enquire soon.

This conference will bring together scholars and curators from the disciplines of Literature, Cultural History, Art and Architectural History, and Heritage to investigate LGBTQ perspectives on the “long” eighteenth century [. . .] the conference will complement a major exhibition taking place October 2018-February 2019, ‘The Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill’, which will bring together, for the first time since 1842, masterpieces from Walpole’s collection.

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Every Time A Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings

I am writing on Hans Andersen in my forthcoming book on shadow play and despite the discourse of suffering and redemption, the stories are full of imagination and sensibility, and are always heart-wrenchingly empathic. Many of the tales have a dark gothic gloom like those polar nights in a Scandinavian winter when there are only two or three hours of light a day and the sun skirts just below the horizon, never fully rising. In previous years I’ve posted about Andersen’s ‘The Fir Tree’, which feels pain and the bitterness of rejection when it is discarded. This year I have re-read ‘The Little Match Girl’ (first published in 1845). It is a story about a dying child’s hopes and dreams. ‘A sad tale is best for winter’ (A Winter’s Tale, 2.1) and Andersen imagines the child contemplating the loss of the person who loves her most, her grandmother, as the snow falls thickly outside. ‘The Little Match Girl’ teaches us to open our hearts to love and friendship even when those hearts are aching (reminiscent of the redemption of Scrooge, from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). There is something of these sentiments in Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life too. The film is based on a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, who was moved to write it after having a dream based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Due to this film I grew up believing – when you hear a bell ringing an angel has just got its wings!

In Andersen’s story there is no such happy ending. A falling star signals an earthly death (accompanied perhaps by a bell and a new angel ascending), but whilst the little  girl wishes to prolong the match’s flame she does not rage against the ultimate dying of the light. She goes to her death with love in her heart, though her body is frozen. As the sun comes up on New Year’s Eve, we are made aware that her star has finally fallen.

It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Evening came on, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, was walking through the streets[….] In an old apron she carried several packages of matches, and she held a box of them in her hand. No one had bought any from her all day long, and no one had given her a half penny.

Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along […] The snowflakes fell on her long fair hair, which hung in pretty curls over her neck. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a wonderful smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s eve. Yes, she thought of that!

In a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected farther out into the street than the other, she sat down and drew up her little feet under her. She was getting colder and colder, but did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches, nor earned a single cent, and her father would surely beat her. Besides, it was cold at home, for they had nothing over them but a roof through which the wind whistled even though the biggest cracks had been stuffed with straw and rags.

Her hands were almost dead with cold. Oh, how much one little match might warm her! If she could only take one from the box and rub it against the wall and warm her hands. She drew one out. R-r-ratch! How it sputtered and burned! It made a warm, bright flame, like a little candle, as she held her hands over it; but it gave a strange light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she were sitting before a great iron stove with shining brass knobs and a brass cover. How wonderfully the fire burned! How comfortable it was! The youngster stretched out her feet to warm them too; then the little flame went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the burnt match in her hand.

She struck another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and when the light fell upon the wall it became transparent like a thin veil, and she could see through it into a room. On the table a snow-white cloth was spread, and on it stood a shining dinner service. The roast goose steamed gloriously, stuffed with apples and prunes. And what was still better, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled along the floor with a knife and fork in its breast, right over to the little girl. Then the match went out, and she could see only the thick, cold wall. She lighted another match. Then she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree. It was much larger and much more beautiful than the one she had seen last Christmas through the glass door at the rich merchant’s home. Thousands of candles burned on the green branches, and coloured pictures like those in the printshops looked down at her. The little girl reached both her hands toward them. Then the match went out. But the Christmas lights mounted higher. She saw them now as bright stars in the sky. One of them fell down, forming a long line of fire.

“Now someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star fell down a soul went up to God.

She rubbed another match against the wall. It became bright again, and in the glow the old grandmother stood clear and shining, kind and lovely.

“Grandmother!” cried the child. “Oh, take me with you! I know you will disappear when the match is burned out. You will vanish like the warm stove, the wonderful roast goose and the beautiful big Christmas tree!”

And she quickly struck the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother with her. And the matches burned with such a glow that it became brighter than daylight. Grandmother had never been so grand and beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and both of them flew in brightness and joy above the earth, very, very high, and up there was neither cold, nor hunger, nor fear-they were with God.

But in the corner, leaning against the wall, sat the little girl with red cheeks and smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The New Year’s sun rose upon a little pathetic figure. The child sat there, stiff and cold, holding the matches, of which one bundle was almost burned.

“She wanted to warm herself,” the people said. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, and how happily she had gone with her old grandmother into the bright New Year.

I am posting this in memory of my mother and my two grandmothers and in celebration of Christmas past and present.

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OGOM: Supernatural St Albans Christmas Tour

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Following the success of our Supernatural St Albans Hallowe’en Tour, and back by popular demand, we are undertaking our spook-tacular tour of St Albans as a festive treat on Saturday 8th December. Led by OGOM’s Dr Kaja Franck, the trip will be exploring the magical and spectral history of Hertfordshire’s finest Gothic city. The event is informed by the research we carried out for our Urban Weird project in collaboration with Supernatural Cities.  We have explored the weird and the eerie, and those uncanny or submerged histories that give play to the imagination and rise up to frame spacial narratives.

St Albans is home to tortured martyrs, ghostly monks, pagan gods, grotesque carvings, an ancient dragon or wyrm’s lair, succubi, winged skulls, witches, Wicca communities, folklore rituals, and more. 


Meet at the Clock Tower, St Albans, 3.30pm. The tour lasts 90 minutes. Price £10.00 to be paid in cash on the day. Make sure you wrap up warm, wear sensible shoes, and bring a torch as we will be out after dark!


To book please email:

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CFPs: IGA 2019, Mapping the Mythosphere

Calls for papers for two exciting conferences.

First, following the fabulous IGA 2018 in Manchester, the IGA 2019 conference, Gothic Terror, Gothic Horror is being held on 30 July to 2 August 2019, at Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois, United States. Deadline: 31 January 2019.

We invite the submission of abstracts that explore the theme of Gothic Terror, Gothic Horror. We welcome proposed panels of three related papers. Since this IGA conference is the first to be held in the United States, we encourage proposals that consider the theme in relation to the American Gothic.

Then, at the University of Glasgow, there is the Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations conference Mapping the Mythosphere, 23-24 May 2019. Deadline: not given.

GIFCon 2019 is a two-day symposium that seeks to examine and honour the relationships between the different strands of Fantasy and the individual Fantastic works that make up the Mythosphere, be they books, films, games or comics. We welcome proposals for papers relating to this theme from researchers and practitioners working in the field of Fantasy and the Fantastic across all media, whether within the academy or beyond it. We are particularly interested in submissions from postgraduate and early career researchers.

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Twilight: feminism and fandom

A pale young man fills the top left of the poster, standing over a brown-haired young woman on the right, with the word "twilight" on the lower right.It’s the ten-year anniversary of the first film of Stephenie Meyers’s Twilight series (Twilight, dir. by Catherine Hardwicke), the YA vampire paranormal romance which became a sensation. Both book and film, and the adulation both received, attracted much criticism, often from a feminist perspective that objected to the values portrayed but often in a way that disparaged the books and films’ admirers. These two articles reappraise what was a significant cultural phenomenon, restoring some agency to the fans themselves. I don’t think the questions on the feminist or otherwise force of Twilight are resolved here, however.

Kate Muir, ‘Ten years of Twilight: the extraordinary feminist legacy of the panned vampire saga

Tom Beasley, ‘Twilight forever: how superfans kept the vampire critics at bay


Image: By Source, Fair use,

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