Keynotes and Special Events

Urban Weird:  Keynote Speakers

Prof. Owen Davies (University of Hertfordshire), historian of witchcraft and magic,
‘Supernatural Beliefs in Nineteenth-Century Asylums’

Dr Karl Bell (University of Portsmouth), Convenor of Supernatural Cities, ‘Dark City, Daemonic Architectures: Towards a Cartography of the Urban Weird’

Dr Sam George (University of Hertfordshire), Convenor of the Open Graves, Open Minds Project, ‘City Demons: Urban Manifestations of the Pied Piper and Nosferatu Myths’

Special Events (all free to delegates)

Urban Weird Film Screening  introduced by Dr Mikel Koven (University of Worcester), specialist in folklore cinema and President of the International Society of Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR).

Following supper in the bar delegates will be introduced to an eerie screening of Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Benjamin Christensen, 1922) which exemplifies our theme of folklore and the ‘urban weird’. A lively discussion will ensue! 

Urban Weird: Spectral St Albans Magical City Tour

From Britannia to the Wicker Man: The Welcome Return of Folk Horror   makes reference to the ‘submerged histories’ which give play to the imagination and rise up to frame spacial narratives and this is precisely the theme for our Spectral St Albans Magical Cities Tour. St Albans is built on the remains of the ancient Roman city of Verulamium, razed to the ground by Boudicca. You can join us for a stunning tour of the buried city on the 7th April and engage with the magical and supernatural history of Hertfordshire’s finest spectral city (home to tortured martyrs, ghostly medieval monks, pagan Gods, grotesque carvings, winged skulls, Wiccan communities, folklore rituals and more).

Urban Weird Boggart Workshop

Delegates will be invited to participate in a special workshop on a Mancunian Boggart, led by Dr Ceri Houlbrook (ECR , University of Hertfordshire). Using a wide range of material – from the pens of antiquarians to local ballads and oral histories – this workshop will trace the history and folklore of Boggart Hole Clough, where today, still, ‘there lurks that strange elf’…ooh!!