Shadowlands: The Dark Origins of the Victorian Fairy, 17th April, 1.30 online

E.T. Parrish, The Visit at Moonlight

I will be giving a free online talk for the University of Hertfordshire’s Literature Research Seminar Series on Wed 17 April at 1.30. The concept of gothic has had an association with fairy from its inception; I’ll be exploring how we lost our fear of fairies and how they came to be associated with spirits of the dead in folklore. Are Fairies immortal or can they fade and die?

Joining details below. All welcome. Do come along and join in the discussion!

Literature, Folklore and Fairytale

17 April 1.30

Sam George: ‘Shadow Worlds: The Dark Origins of the Victorian Fairy’  

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Meeting ID: 992 6856 5549

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Egg Shell Lore: Witches & Fairies

There’s an interesting overlap between witches and fairies in folklore, this is seen, for example, in the shared idea of their uncanny voyages and the unusual vessels they choose to travel in. According to A Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584), witches like to ‘saile in an egge shell, a cockle or muscle shell, through and under the tempestuous seas’.

A witch goes to sea in a sieve (Charles Turner, 1807, Wellcome Collection)

The belief that witches could sail in eggshells endured into my own childhood and led to us harbouring many superstitions around crushing the shells so they were not stolen by witches! It seems that fairies too are drawn to egg shells. According to Lady Wilde’s Superstitions of Ireland (1887), ‘egg-shells are favourite retreats of the fairies, therefore the judicious eater should always break the shell after use, to prevent the fairy sprite from taking up his lodgment therein’. Eggchanting!

Fairy and child discover an Easter egg,
1930 (Mary Evans Picture Library)

I thought this was a topical piece of lore ahead of this weekend’s pace egging and it allows for a mischievous gothicising of Easter. Happy holidays OGOMERS!!

gothic decoupage pace egg

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CFPs and Events: Horror, Gothic poetry, monstrosity and Romanticism, Gothic books, Georgic Gothic

1. Horror Studies Now: A Two-Day Conference

Northumbria University, UK, 30-31 May 2024.
Deadline: 31 March 2024

Researchers working in the broad field of “Horror Studies” are invited to submit abstracts about their research for an in-person conference, hosted by the Horror Studies Research Group at Northumbria University (UK), on 30-31 May 2024. The event will be free to attend.

Speakers will each deliver a 15-minute talk about their research, followed by extended discussion and questions from the conference delegation. We invite submissions from scholars at any career stage, but we particularly welcome abstracts from early career researchers and new voices in the field. The event is intended to provide a supportive space in which to develop new ideas, network, and forge new collaborations with fellow Horror Studies researchers.

2. Poetry and the Gothic

Edited collection.
Deadline 15 May 2024

Poetry has been an integral part of the Gothic mode since its inception. However, the connection between poetry and the Gothic seems a less explored area of critical inquiry, in comparison to fiction. While the Graveyard Poets and other Anglophone poetry movements are already considered foundational to the Gothic mode, our edited collection seeks to broaden the scope of what can be conceived of as “Gothic poetry” or poetry inspired by the Gothic.

We welcome papers that take a flexible view of the Gothic, locating it in various cultural contexts and languages from the long 18th century to the 21st century. We also welcome those who take a more historicist view of the Gothic to submit their work. What constitutes a Gothic poet? How do we conceptualize Gothic poetry differently from other genres? We invite essays that rethink the connection between poetry and the Gothic. Investigations of Gothic poetry and its connection to other genres and media are also welcome.

3. BARS Digital Event: Gothic Monstrosity and Romanticism

Online: Thursday, April 11 · 5 – 6:30pm GMT+1

Although the role of terror in aesthetic experiences is a commonplace in Romantic criticism, the problematic nature of monstrosity itself beyond narratives of anxiety remains to be explored systematically. This panel considers the intersections between the emergence of monster literature proper – through figures such as Lord Ruthven in John Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’ (1819) and the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) – and the ways in which monstrous constructions inform the Romantic Gothic. Moving beyond the premise that the monsters of the early Gothic are Romantic figures, this panel seeks to interrogate how Romantic monstrosity translates into depictions of space – and what this means for negotiations of agency. While the sublime is linked to human experience and hence to an anthropocentric vision, this panel seeks to locate monstrosity as a mechanism by which the non-human undermines the human. Surveying a range of texts by Ann Radcliffe, Anne Bannerman, Mary Robinson, Mary Shelley, and John Polidori, the panel explores the depiction and performance of monstrosity in the Romantic Gothic with a view to highlighting its centrality and its distinction from sublime terror. Finally, looking forward, through an analysis of Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things (2023), which draws on Shelley’s Frankenstein, we suggest a genealogy of constructions of monstrosity rooted in Romanticism, considering what this means for contemporary narratives of liminality.

4. Gothic Book Launch: Graveyard Gothic, Matthew Gregory Lewis, Gothic Voices

Thursday, May 16 · 5 – 6:30pm GMT+1
Hybrid event
Lecture Theatre 3, Ground Floor, Geoffrey Manton Building
Rosamond Street West, Manchester, M15 6EB

Join us at Manchester Metropolitan University to hear more about three exciting new publications in Gothic Studies which address new debates relating to death, screen studies, Gothic and Romantic literary culture and sound studies.

This celebratory launch will showcase the cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and archival work undertaken by members of our Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies and their international collaborators. We are delighted that Eric Parisot will be joining us online from Adelaide, Australia and David McAllister will join us in person from London to speak about their editing roles on Graveyard Gothic.

This is a free hybrid event, so you are welcome to join us either on campus in central Manchester or online via Teams. If booking via Teams, the link will be emailed to you three days before the event and as a reminder at lunchtime on the day of the event itself.

5. Georgic Gothic: EcoGothic, Antipastoral and Global Horror

Essay collection proposed for International Gothic Series, Manchester University Press.
Deadline: 6 December 2024

In their most recent overview of ecoGothic research, William Hughes and Andrew Smith note the prevalence of ‘intersecting and fruitful links between animals, plants, and food’ and that ‘Gothic engagements with food have become a significant area of investigation’ in recent studies. Agriculture is also filled with risk, personal and existential. Tales of horror arise from fear of nonhuman nature overpowering the human. These fears collide at the agricultural interface – the field, the wood, the cow.

EcoGothic can provide ways of questioning assumptions about human actions and lifestyles, even when they appear positive, and this interrogation can help to change the relationships between human, nonhuman, or more than human Others. Climate breakdown increases pressure on farmers, especially those striving for some alleviation through agriculture itself.

Environmental studies have recently come to revisit the georgic mode, by which agriculture and its labour can be depicted. In Virgil’s long poem, the Georgics, there is an insistent recognition that farm labour is ‘relentless’, often with meagre reward, and that both practice and politics of land ownership can be dangerous. However, Virgil also detailed the intimate, reciprocal relationship with nonhuman, and how hope was an ever present impulse to further endeavour. Novels, paintings and now films and digital media add to earlier poetic genres, offering new perspectives on ancient combinations of hope and misery. Unease permeates agricultural writing: farming hurts – there are well known examples such as Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) – hard labour alongside brutal machinery.

EcoGothic offers a way of way of examining the balance between hope and experience, Virgil’s ‘Fate’, ally and enemy in one. ‘Staying with the trouble’, as Donna Haraway has explored, can be a way of working through disaster. At the beginning of her text, Haraway includes the georgic impulse to recreate through the earth: ‘we require each other in unexpected collaborations and combinations, in hot compost piles’. Compost – decay – renews the earth.

This essay collection seeks contributions that investigate the connections between gothic and georgic which are not limited to the downsides of darkness, but explore how the mysterious, uncanny and disruptive provoke responses in their ability to influence minds and behaviours in order to improve multispecies engagement. Contributors can source material from any nation or period: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, film and digital. Of particular interest is farming beyond the UK, for example in Ireland and Australia, Africa and Asia, places that nourish their own ecoGothic elements.

Please direct enquiries and send abstracts as Word docs (400 words plus short bio) to Sue Edney by 31st May 2024. If accepted, you will be invited to submit a draft chapter of up to 7000 words by 6th December 2024.

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Ethical Gothic Studies

Some exciting news, OGOM is going to be editing a special edition of Gothic Studies on Ethical Gothic. This will add to the issues we have already edited on the vampire 15.1. (2013) Undead Reflections: The Sympathetic Vampire and its Monstrous Other and the werewolf 21.1 (2019) Werewolves and Wildness. The new issue, 29.2 will appear in July 2027. We will be looking for essays on this theme for inclusion in the volume in the near future. We’ll also be hosting an Ethical Gothic Symposium to share ideas and develop papers for the issue. We look forward to finding out more about others whose research might address these concerns (including writers). Thank you to Emily Alder and the editorial team at Gothic Studies for this opportunity.

The OGOM Project extends to all narratives of the fantastic, the folkloric, and the magical, emphasising that sense of Gothic as enchantment rather than simply horror. Through this, OGOM is articulating an ethical Gothic, cultivating moral agency and creating empathy for the marginalised, monstrous or othered, including the disenchanted natural world.

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Shabnam Ahsan, ‘Skins and Cloaks: New Identities in 21st-Century Fairy Tales’

Cat Skin

We have rescheduled Shabnam Ahsan’s UH Research Seminar, ‘Skins and Cloaks: New Identities in 21st-century Fairy Tales’. It’s now on 13 March at 1.30 pm.

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Meeting ID: 950 4951 9796

Details of further seminars can be seen in the previous post here:

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UH Literature Research Seminar Series (January- March 2024)

OGOMERS are cordially invited to join me for the Literature Research Seminar series at the University of Hertfordshire. These take place online once a month on Wednesdays at 1.30. The papers are 35 mins and we have 20 minutes for discussion. The forum welcomes PhD students and MA students in related fields and is friendly and supportive. If you’d like to join us please follow the links. This semester we are having an excursion into folklore, fairy tale and the gothic. The programme up to Easter is as follows:

24 January 1.30

Kaja Franck, ‘Atavistic Trolls and Immorality in Nordic Ecogothic’

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 951 5732 9165

13 March 1.30

 Shabnam Ahsan, ‘Skins and Cloaks: New Identities in 21st-Century Fairy Tales’

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 950 4951 9796

17 April 1.30

Sam George, Shadow Worlds: The Dark Origins of the Victorian Fairy

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Meeting ID: 992 6856 5549

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OGOM News: January, 2024

We’d like to wish all our followers a happy and successful 2024. We were thrilled this month to see the book jacket for our latest OGOM publication The Legacy of John Polidori: The Romantic Vampire and its Progeny, which is out later in the year. Here’s a preview:

The Legacy of John Polidori cover

I’m excited to reveal too, that I will be working with St Pancras Old Church on a brochure and Gothic tour for the public which includes Polidori’s disturbed final resting place in the Churchyard. We will be launching this to tie in with the book. The mystery of Polidori’s supposed suicide and missing headstone is something I spoke about on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time and it features in the afterword to the book. Sir Chris Frayling has written the preface and we hope that the book will go some way to redeeming ‘Poor Polidori’. It explores the genesis of Polidori’s vampire and tracks his bloodsucking progeny across the centuries and maps his disquieting legacy from the melodramatic vampire theatricals in the 1820s, through further Gothic fictions and horror films, to twenty-first-century paranormal romance. You can read more about the book and link to the table of contents on our publication pages here.

It is looking to be an exciting year for OGOM. We are currently completing our fairy collection and also our editorship of The Cambridge Companion to the Vampire. We also have 2 new funded PhD students who we’ll introduce in full shortly via updated contact pages. Our BAME scholarship student Shabnam is also active with regards to supporting the project. Suffice to say, we are looking forward to working with them and you’ll be able to read about their research in progress on the blog. At present, their topics are as follows:

  • Jane Gill: ‘The Monstrous Feminine: A Female Gothic Perspective on the Lamia and Soucoyant Archetypes in Literature, C. 1820-2000’
  • Harley Tillotson: ‘Ecology in YA Fairy Fiction: Eco-Gothic Approaches to Contemporary Environmental Issues’
  • Shabnam Ahsan: ‘From Coloniality to Postcoloniality in British Fairy tales: 1880-present’

We’d like to mention too that we are open to contributions for feature articles or reviews for the OGOM blog if you’d like to contact us. We have guidelines and also a books received list for reviews. For a wonderful example of the type of material we are looking for, see Stacey Abbot’s review of the Nosferatu at 100 exhibition.

Finally, a reminder that our book In the Company of Wolves is out in paperback and we couldn’t be prouder!! If you are an academic, please consider ordering it for your library or adopting it onto your Gothic modules. We’d love it to be widely read by students of the Gothic.

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Merry Christmas 2023

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to those who celebrate from all of us at the Open Graves, Open Minds Project

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CFPs: Sex and scandal, 1980s and sequels, Victorian popular fiction, Tolkien

Some more conference CFPs, with deadlines in February

1. Dark Economies: Sex, Scandal, and Sensation

Falmouth University, UK (in partnership with City University, Hong Kong), 2-4 July 2024
Deadline: 14 February 2024

Sex, Scandal, and Sensation is an interdisciplinary and global exploration of the role and impact of the sensational, the scandalous, and the sexual in literature, film, television, gaming, and other forms of cultural production. The conference is dedicated to the discussion of a broad range of genres and sub-genres, including Sensation Fiction and the Sensational Press; Crime Fiction and True Crime narratives; Shilling Shockers, Penny Dreadfuls and the Pulps; Romance, Erotica, and Pornographies; the Gothic in both traditional and modern forms; Thrillers on both page and screen; Bestsellers, Blockbusters, and Bonkbusters; Horror novels and films; Soap Operas and Shocking Theatre; RPG and Digital storytelling; and other genres and forms that both rely on the scandal, sensation, and sex for their effects, and explore its effects on us.

2. Return of the Gothic 1980s: Sequels, Trilogies, Multiverses & Beyond

Manchester Metropolitan University, 20–21 June 2024
Deadline: 23 January 2024

This two-day conference aims to re-evaluate the gothic proliferation, duplication, and industrial (over-)reliance on sequelisation that emerged from the 1980s studio system. [. . .]
The gothic mode informs many of the decade’s rich and iconic screen materials and aesthetics; thus, it serves as a significant starting point for the contemporary expansion (and occasional sentiment of exhaustion) with multiverse world-building and the overwhelming advancement of intra-textual material culture [. . .] This conference seeks to explore how sequels work, what rules and anomalies they produce, audience and fan expectations and exhaustion, the formulas, conventions, triumphs and failures, world-building and mythology through sequels, the industrial reliance upon sequels and franchises, and the uncanny notion that we may, still, be living in a historical sequel of the 1980s ourselves.

3. VPFA Annual Conference: ‘Places and Spaces in Victorian Popular Literature and Culture’

Victorian Popular Fiction Association, Canterbury Christ Church University (hybrid conference, in person and online with Zoom), 15-17 July 2024
Deadline: 29 February 2024

If ‘space’ is understood as an area that can be objectively measured or at least conceptualised, the construction of ‘place’ depends on a range of affective and cultural meanings at any given moment.
Victorian writing persistently maps both collective and individual experience onto fully realised ‘spaces’. But the boundaries are often permeable or unstable: actual colonial spaces becoming places of the imagination; the continuing negotiation of domestic space through ideologies of place; the growth of London changing the status of the suburbs; amateur botanists beginning to alter the ecosystem of coastal communities. [. . .]
We invite a broad, imaginative and interdisciplinary interpretation on the topic of ‘Place and Space’ and its relation to any aspect of Victorian popular literature and culture that addresses literal or metaphorical representations of the theme.

4. The Tolkien Society Seminar: Tolkien’s Romantic Resonances

The Tolkien Society, Hilton Leeds City (Free Hybrid Event), 6 July 2024
Deadline: 29 February 2024

As early as The Book of Lost Tales (1910s-1930s) Tolkien’s prose and poetry was infused with elements of the stylistics, aesthetics, and philosophies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Romantics. Although it has been shown that Tolkien learnt about and read a range of Romantic works, his dialogue with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief” in ‘On Fairy-stories’ has dominated the intersections between Romantic and Tolkien studies. This has overshadowed the role that Romantic influences played in the shaping of Middle-earth, as well as the Romantic legacies in Victorian literature and art that had a significant impact on Tolkien’s writing. While Tolkien clearly rejected certain forms of Romanticism, he worked within a literary tradition that was partially shaped by the Romantics.
This seminar seeks fresh and innovative readings of Tolkien’s Romantic Resonances that are in dialogue with modern scholarship on Romanticisms, Romantic aesthetics and Romantic-period histories. The seminar understands ‘Romanticism’ and the ‘Romantic’ as complex, nuanced terms that elude simplification, traditional historical markers, and solely Anglocentric readings.

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CFPs: Conjuring Creatures and Worlds, Heavy Childhoods, Cannibal Consumption, late Shelley, Angela Carter

The deadlines for these are all in January–some very close indeed!

1. GIFCon 2024: Conjuring Creatures and Worlds

Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, University of Glasgow (on line), 15-17 May 2024. Deadline: 5 January 2024 (11:59pm)

How do academics, creative practitioners, and fans conjure (and understand the conjuration of) fantasy, creatures and worlds? Fantasy and the fantastic have the capability to conjure the ephemeral and the horrific, the indefinable and the real, the Other and ourselves, but how do we understand these creations? And how do these encounters with creatures, magic, and worlds conform or challenge our understanding of the fantastic?

2. Heavy Childhoods Conference

University of Huddersfield (in person and on line), 10-11 February 2025
Deadline: 10 January 2024

Ingrained social constructs of the child and childhood as a time of innocence, imagination, and wonder limit our understanding of other aspects that constitute childhood’s representations and experiences. [. . .] “Heavy Childhoods Conference” February 2025 invites delegates to explore “heaviness”, broad y defined, in relation to childhood. We explicitly encourage contributions from outside the global north, as well as transcultural research. [. . .] Creative, short form, and other alternative methods of engagement with the topic are welcome.

3. HI PhD Conference 2024: ‘Cannibal Consumption: Culture, Capitalism, Critique’

UCD Humanities Institute, Dublin, 1 March 2024
Deadline: 12 January 2024

The term ‘cannibalism’ evokes images of horror, violence, and taboo. It is a provocative and unsettling theme, often eliciting fear, disgust and fascination. Historically, colonial and imperial projects deployed racialised discourses of cannibalism in order to legitimise violence on allegedly ‘savage’ or ‘primitive’ populations [. . .] However, the resurgence of cannibalism in contemporary fiction and film has subverted these traditional narratives, offering nuanced perspectives that challenge established norms, societal taboos, and questions of identity [. . .] Responding to the provocations raised by cannibalism today, the conference intends to expand the ways in which it can be conceptualised.

4. The Shelley Conference: ‘Posthumous Poems’, Posthumous Collaborations

Keats House Museum, London. 8-29 June 2024
Deadline: 29 January 2024

Two years after the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley in the summer of 1822, Mary Shelley, after a painstaking editorial process, published Posthumous Poems (1824). The volume contained much of Shelley’s major poetry, including the hitherto unpublished ‘Julian and Maddalo’, together with translations of Goethe and Calderón, and unfinished compositions such as ‘The Triumph of Life’ and ‘Charles the First’.
The Shelley Conference 2024 celebrates the first collected volume of Shelley’s poetry. Posthumous Poems is the product of collaborations. The most significant of these is between Mary Shelley as editor and Shelley as poet, but they also occur between Shelley and the guarantors of the volume, including Bryan Waller Procter (‘Barry Cornwall’) and Thomas Lovell Beddoes. The conference also addresses ideas of posterity and reception more generally in Shelley scholarship, the range of literary forms collected in a single volume, and the complex collaborative literary relationships that shaped Shelley’s life and endured after his death.

5. “Desire, Imagination and Dream” – Angela Carter in Portugal

Angela Carter Society, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 27-29 June 2024
Deadline: 31 January 2024

This international conference under the aegis of the Angela Carter Society seeks to explore the complex and multi-layered relationships between art, politics, place, and sexuality in the writings of Angela Carter. Taking place at the University of Lisbon, the conference takes inspiration from Carter’s visit to Portugal in the summer of 1977 [. . .]
This conference presents us all with an opportunity to reflect on the intersections of art, sexuality, politics and place in the writings of Angela Carter [. . .] 2024 is also an important year for Portugal, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution which re-established democracy in the country. We therefore invite speakers to connect Carter’s writings about politics and place with the recent history of Portugal

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