April ghouls, ghosts and supernatural cities at Urban Weird conference in Hatfield

The Urban Weird at the University of Hertfordshire

The Urban Weird at the University of Hertfordshire - Credit: University of Hertfordshire

Witchcraft, magic and the macabre will be on the agenda in Hatfield at a two-day programme of events on the theme of supernatural cities.

The Urban Weird at the University of Hertfordshire

The Urban Weird at the University of Hertfordshire - Credit: University of Hertfordshire

The University of Hertfordshire is set to host ‘The Urban Weird’ on April 6 and April 7 at the de Havilland Campus in Hatfield.

The event will explore supernatural and magical cities, and examine the significance of the ‘urban weird’ in all its various manifestations.

Topics include ‘Weird Victoriana’, ‘Ghosts and Spectrality, ‘Urban Myths and Fairytales’, ‘Paranormal Romance’ and ‘Weird Archaeology’.

This programme of events marks a collaboration between the Open Graves, Open Minds group at the University of Hertfordshire and the Supernatural Cities project at the University of Portsmouth.

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The festival will boast over 40 research papers, a spectral St Albans tour exploring the magical and supernatural history of Hertfordshire’s finest ghost city, a special workshop on mischievous spirits or ‘boggarts’, led by Dr Ceri Houlbrook, and a screening of the cult film ‘Hazan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’, introduced by Dr Mikel Koven, a specialist in folklore cinema.

Dr Sam George, convenor of the project and senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire said: “It’s very exciting, this event is inspired by the weird or the eerie, and those uncanny or submerged histories that give play to the imagination and rise up to frame spacial narratives.

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“Day two takes place in St Albans, home to tortured martyrs, ghostly monks, pagan Gods, grotesque carvings, winged skulls, Wiccan communities, folklore rituals and more.”

Keynote talks will cover ‘Supernatural Beliefs in Nineteenth-Century Asylums’ by Professor Owen Davies, ‘Dark City, Daemonic Architectures: Towards a Cartography of the Urban Weird’ by Dr Karl Bell from the University of Portsmouth, and ‘City Demons: Urban Manifestations of the Pied Piper and Nosferatu Myths’ by Dr Sam George.

The Open Graves, Open Minds research group is known for its imaginative events and symposia.

These have included a three-day conference on shapeshifters, werewolves and feral humans, a first for a UK academy.

• To find out more about The Urbam Weird event and see the full programme, visit: http://www.opengravesopenminds.com/urban-weird-2018/full-programme/

• For tickets, visit https://store.herts.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/events/humanities/ogom-and-supernatural-cities-present-the-urban-weird

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