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Department of Geography, University of Cambridge


The Geographical Unconscious: mapping the supernatural in current research

The Geographical Unconscious: mapping the supernatural in current research

Polar Social Science and Humanities Workshop
10th April 2013: Scott Polar Research Institute, 1.30-5.30pm.

Recent decades have witnessed the release of a multitude of studies looking at imaginative and spiritual geographies, maps and monsters, and the psychical landscape of the supernatural. Taken together, this corpus has acted to problematise any reductionist "breaks" which theorise a "decline of magic" (Keith Thomas) or "disenchantment of the world" (Max Weber) in modernity. During this period human geography has undertaken "affectual" and "emotional" turns, while researchers in cultural and literary studies have been working with the "supernatural turn" of the "uncanny nineties". Notions of place and space have been deconstructed and striated to reflect the layers, echoes, and forces which lie beneath, or within, the actualities of everyday life in different historical and geographical contexts. As many writers on these themes have found, the imaginative dimension has become a dynamic thread uniting the humanities and social sciences, allowing researchers to open up to radically new approaches and trends.

Maintaining a broad field of vision, the theme of this workshop is the geographical unconscious. This meeting brings together contributions ranging from early modern studies to the Arctic humanities to examine and compare the political and cultural agencies at work. We invite our contributors to present 20-25 minute papers which would set out their current approaches and subjects in an area currently at the centre of several critical developments in the humanities and social sciences. What is the relationship between particular places and their supernatural inhabitants? Can we speak of spirits of place? How do scientific travellers and explorers appeal to the world of dreams, memories, and desires in their practices? What role does haunting play in narratives of life and death? Can otherness ever be accurately mapped?

For more info and to RSVP contact Shane McCorristine.


1.30: Lunch

2.15-2.45: Dr Shane McCorristine (NUI Maynooth/SPRI): Ghosts, Disappearance, and Maps

2:45-3.15: Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough (Queen's College, Oxford): Icelandic Supernatural Landscapes

3:15-3:30: Break

3:30-4:00: Dr Stefan Donecker (Austrian Academy of Sciences): Werewolves in Early Modern Europe

4:00-4:30: Dr Stefan Dorondel (Francisc I Rainer Institute of Anthropology, Bucharest): Vampires and Space in Modern Romania

4:30-5:00: Dr Karl Bell (University of Portsmouth): The Victorian Urban Gothic

5:00-5:30: Roundtable: Challenges in current research

The Geographical Unconscious: mapping the supernatural in current research