Tuesday, 29 November 2011

CFP: 2nd Global Conference: Gender and Love

Tuesday 25th September – Thursday 27th September 2012

Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Papers:

The study of gender is an interdisciplinary field intertwined with feminism, queer studies, sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, and cultural studies (to name just some relevant fields).

This project calls for the consideration of gender in relation to various kinds of love (with regard, for example, to self, spirit, religion, family, friendship, ethics, nation, globalisation, environment, and so on). How do the interactions of gender and love promote particular performances of gender; conceptions of individual and collective identity; formations of community; notions of the human; understandings of good and evil? These are just some of the questions that occupy this project.

This conference welcomes research papers which seek to understand the interaction and interconnection between the concepts of love and gender; and whether, when, how and in what ways the two concepts conceive and construct each other.

Papers, presentations, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on issues related to any of the following themes:

1. Love as a Disciplinary Force: Productions of Gender
* Love, Gender, Essentialism and Ontology
* Love, Gender and Narrative
* Love, Gender and the Law
* Love, Gender and Religion

2. Norms, Normativity, Intimacy
* Rituals and Rites
* Conventions, Commitments and Obligations
* Choices and Respect; Loyalty and Trust
* Transgressions and Taboos

3. Gendered Yearnings
* Personhood and Identity
* Body Politics and Belonging
* Love and Gender Performativity
* Transgender Desires
* Queer Kinship Formations
* Queer Conceptualisations of the State

4. Global Perspectives on Gender and Love
* Transformations of Intimacy in a Global World
* Sex and Choice
* Reproductive Rights
* Sexual Citizenship
* Gender, Love and Trans/Nationalism

5. Representations of Gender and Love
* Aesthetics and Intelligibility
* Gendered Narrations of Love
* Media, Gender and Love

For 2012, the Gender and Love project will meet alongside our project on “Skins” and Contemporary Culture. It is our intention to create cross-over sessions between the two groups – and we welcome proposals which deal with the relationship between gender and love and Skins and contemporary culture. The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 16th March 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 22nd June 2012. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: GL2 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:

Dikmen Yakalı Çamoğlu
Department of Communication Sciences
Dogus University, Istanbul,
Turkey

Dr Rob Fisher
Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Priory House, Wroslyn Road,
Freeland, Oxfordshire OX29 8HR

The conference is part of the ‘At the Interface ’ series of research projects run by ID.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various
discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into 20-25 page chapters for publication in a themed dialogic ISBN hard copy volume.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

CFP: Preternature 2.2

Monstrophy: The Academic Study of Monsters

''Monstrophy'' is a term referring to the academic study of monsters as representational and conceptual categories, which has gained recent currency in several related fields of study (literary and cultural history, sociological theories of identity and difference, et al.), as well as in a number of recent books and articles about monsters as subjects of theoretical interpretation. Etymologically derived from Latin ''mōnstrum'' (meaning prodigy, ominous sign, monstrous creature or person, abomination) and Greek ''sophia'' (σοφία, wisdom), hybrid compounding of monstrophy is not uncommon in disciplinary names, e.g. [[sociology]], another Greek and Latin compound.) Monstrophy literally means "wisdom about monsters," and in academic usage refers to the broader study of monsters in society and history.

Monsters have been widely catalogued in their historical and ethnographic contexts, and have been commonly included in cultural products such as epic, folktale, fiction, and film, but have only begun to be studied seriously as semiological markers indicating the seams of internal cultural tension. Interpreters commonly note the "monstrous" as occupying space at the borders of a society's conceptual categories, such as those relating to sexual and behavioral transgression, or to inherent prejudice and internal conflict (for instance, in race, gender, politics, and religion). Monsters are rarely fully distinct from the "human," but are often comprised of hybrid features
of the human and non-human. This issue of Preternature invites contributions that explore how the category of "monster" is used to define and articulate what a certain group of people articulates to itself to be properly human.

Contributions are welcome from any discipline, time period, or geographic provenance, so long as the discussion highlights the cultural, literary, religious, or historical significance of the topic.

Contributions should be roughly 8,000 - 12,000 words (with the possibility of longer submissions in exceptional cases), including all documentation and critical apparatus. If accepted for publication, manuscripts will be required to adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (style 1, employing footnotes).

Preternature also welcomes original editions or translations of texts related to the topic that have not otherwise been made available in recent editions or in English. Submissions are made online here.

Final Papers are due February 15, 2012

Queries about submissions, queries concerning books to be reviewed, or requests to review individual titles may be made to the Editor.

Inquiries about book reviews should be sent to the Book Review Editor.

For more on the journal, please consult the website.

CFP: 5th Global Conference: Making Sense of: Madness

Thursday 30th August 2012 – Saturday 1st September 2012

Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Papers:

This inter-disciplinary research conference seeks to explore issues of madness across historical periods and within cultural, political and social contexts. We are also interested in exploring the place of madness in persons and interpersonal relationships and across a range of critical perspectives. Seeking to encourage innovative inter, multi and post disciplinary dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from all disciplines, professions and vocations which struggle to understand the place of madness in the constitution of persons, relationships and the complex interlacing of self and other. In the 4 previous conferences we had the participation of friends and colleagues who have experienced forms of madness in their personal lives, and they have always been not only welcome, but also moving and illuminating for all: Such contributions based on the actual experience of madness from within are always welcome to our annual events.

In particular papers, workshops, presentations and pre-formed panel proposals are invited on any of the following themes:

1. The Value of Madness or Why is it that We Need Madness?
~ Critical explorations: beyond madness/sanity/insanity
~ Continuity and difference: always with us yet never quite the same
~ Repetition and novelty: the incessant emergence and re-emergence of madness
~ Profound attraction and desire; fear of the abyss and the radical unknown
~ Naming, defining and understanding the elusive

2. The Passion of Madness or Madness and the Emotions
~ Love as madness; uncontrollable passion; unrestrainable love
~ Passion and love as a remaking of life and self
~ Gender and madness; the feminine and the masculine
~ Anger, resentment, revenge, hate, evil
~ I would rather vomit, thank you; revulsion, badness and refusing to comply

3. The Boundaries of Madness or Resisting Normality
~ Madness, sanity and the insane
~ Being out of your mind, crazy, deranged … yet, perfectly sane
~ Deviating from the normal; defining the self against the normal
~ Control, self-control and the pull of the abyss
~ When the insane becomes normal; when evil reins social life

4. Lunatics and the Asylum or Power and the Politics of Madness
~ The social allure and fear of madness; the institutions of confining mad people
~ Servicing normality by castigating the insane and marginalizing lunatics
~ Medicine, psychiatry, psychology, law and the constructions of madness; madness as illness
~ Contributions of the social sciences to the making and the critique of the making of madness
~ Representations, explanations and the critique of madness from the humanities and the arts

5. Creativity, Critique and Cutting Edge
~ Madness as genius, outstanding, out of the ordinary, spectacularly brilliant
~ The art of madness; the science of madness
~ Music, painting, dance, theater: it is crazy to think of art without madness
~ The language and communication of madness: who can translate?
~ Creation as an unfolding of madness

6. Unrestrained and Boundless or The Liberating Promise of Madness
~ Metaphors of feeling free, unrestrained, capable, lifted from reality
~ Madness as clear-sightedness, as opening up possibilities, as re-visioning of the world
~ The future, the prophetic, the unknown; the epic, the heroic and the tragic
~ The unreachable and untouchable knowledge of madness
~ The insanity of not loving madness

7. Lessons for Self and Other or Lessons for Life about and from Madness
~ Cultural and social constructions of madness; images of the mad, crazy, insane, lunatic, abnormal
~ What is real? Who defines reality? Learning from madness how to cope with reality
~ Recognising madness in oneself; relativising madness in others
~ Love, intimacy, care and the small spaces of madness
~ Critical and ethical implosions of normality and normalness; sane in insane places and insane in sane places

Papers will be accepted which deal with related areas and themes.

The 2012 meeting of Making Sense Of: Madness will run alongside the second of our projects on Chronicity and we anticipate holding sessions in common between the two projects. We welcome any papers or panels considering the problems or addressing issues that cross both projects. Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 26th March 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 22nd June 2012. 300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up tp 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: Madness Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Gonzalo Araoz
Project Leader, Inter-Disciplinary.Net and University of Cumbria,
Cumbria, United Kingdom

Rob Fisher
Network Founder and Network Leader, Inter-Disciplinary.Net, Freeland,
Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

The conference is part of the ‘Making Sense Of:’ series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: 4th Global Conference: Fashion: Critical Issues

Sunday 16th September – Wednesday 19th September 2012

Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Papers:

Fashion is a statement, a stylised form of expression, which displays and begins to define a person, a place, a class, a time, a religion, a culture, subcultures, and even a nation. This inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary conference seeks to explore the historical, social, economic, political, psychological and artistic phenomenon of fashion, a powerful component of contemporary culture. Fashion lies at the very heart of persons, their sense of identity and the communities in which they live. Individuals emerge as icons of beauty and style; cities are
identified as centres of fashion; the business of fashion is a billions of dollar per annum global industry, employing millions of people. The project will assess the history and meanings of fashion; evaluate its expressions in politics, business, pop culture, the arts, consumer culture, and social media; determine its effect on gender, sexuality, class, race, age, nation and other sources of identity; and explore future directions and trends.

Building on the foundations of previous meetings, publications and collaborations, the conference will be structured around five main areas of focus. Each area will have the opportunity to enjoy specific as well as whole group sessions. Papers, presentations, demonstrations and workshops are invited on the following themes:

1. Understanding Fashion

- Fashion, Style, Taste-Making, and Chic
- Fashion and Fashionability
- Fashion and Zeitgeist
- History of Fashion
-The Future of Fashion

2. Learning and Fashion

- Tools and Methodology
- Theorizing Fashion: Disciplines and Perspectives
-Fashion Education
- Identifying, Defining and Refining Concepts (e.g., ‘style,’ ‘fashion,’ ‘look,’ ‘fad,’ ‘trend,’ ‘in & out’)
- Studying and Documenting Fashion (curatorial practice, collections, archives, and museums)
-Fashion Specialists (e.g., pattern makers, fitters, embroiders, tailors, textile experts)
-The Materials of Fashion

3. Representing and Disseminating Fashion

- Fashion Icons
-Designer and Muses
-Stylists
- Style Guides and Makeover Shows
- Fashion Photography
- Fashion Magazines, Blogs, and Social Media
-Films and Documentaries about Fashion
-Fashion and the Performing Arts, Music and Television
- Celebrities as Fashion Designers

4. Identity and Fashion

- Fashion and Identity (e.g., class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, nation, transnationalism, religion, etc.)
- Fashion: (Sub)Cultures
- Fashion, Politics, and Ideology: e.g., ‘message’ fashion; political platform, regimes, and revolutions)
- Ethical Issues in Fashion (e.g., cruelty free fashion, eco-fashion, exploitative labour, the ‘fakes’ market)
-Fashion as Performance
-Fashion, the Body, and Self-Fashioning (e.g., beauty standards, body art, weight, plastic surgery, etc.)

5. The Business of Fashion

-Fashion Professions and Trades
-Fashion Cities, Fashion Weeks, Fashion’s Night Out
-Fashion Marketing (e.g., brands, flagship stores, guerilla stores, eCommerce)
-Fashion Models
-Fashion Forecasting
-Marketing Platforms (e.g., communication, streaming video, social media, etc.)
-Fashion Markets: Vintage, Nostalgia, Mass, Luxury, Emerging
-Producing Displaying Fashion (production sites, showrooms, runways, window displays, websites, etc.)
- The Rise of the Accessory as a Driving Force of Fashion

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. 300 word abstracts are due by Friday 3rd February 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 22nd June 2012. Emails containing
the abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: FASHION4 Abstract Submission.

Please Note: In this email please attach TWO versions of your abstract as follows:

1) One with title and body of abstract only (no identification of the author—this version will be for our blind peer review process).
2) The other with the following information about the author(s):
affiliation, email, title of abstract, title and body of abstract

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Jacque Lynn Foltyn
Professor of Sociology, Dept of Social Sciences,
College of Letters and Sciences, National University, CA, USA

Dr Rob Fisher
Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Priory House, Wroslyn Road,
Freeland, Oxfordshire OX29 8HR

The conference is part of the Critical Issues series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

Call for Submissions: Black & BLUE

Black & BLUE
A Monthly Publication of New Writing

DRAMA
POETRY
PROSE

Black & BLUE is a new paper. Our first issue will be published in September 2012. We are looking for fresh, innovative voices to rival the lifeless literary scene. We are looking for sad and beautiful writing. We will publish lists, receipts, fictional notes, short sketches as well as conventional poetry and prose We are happy to look at anything you feel like writing. We like strange, unique voices.

Send submissions to this address.

Friday, 25 November 2011

And the winner is...

For the last month I've been running a poll to find out people's favourite female werewolf. The response has been great. There's been some controversy along the way, and I like to think we've all learned a little something, but it's finally time for me to wrap things up and announce the winner.

But, before I do, here's a little summary of the response I got (like all good awards ceremonies, I know I have to keep my audience waiting).

Apart from the winner(s), the votes were pretty evenly distributed. Honorable mentions go to Nina (from Being Human), Vivien (from Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate), Jolie Garoul (from Gill McKnight's Garoul series) and Brigitte Fitzgerald (from the Ginger Snaps trilogy), who blew her sister Ginger out of the water.

Of all the writers whose work was nominated, Martin Millar definitely came out top, getting three characters in the list: Dominil, Kalix and Thrix (from Lonely Werewolf Girl and Curse of the Wolf Girl) placed equally in the final tally.

The she-wolf whose nomination caused the most controversy was Stephenie Meyer's Leah Clearwater. Not only did Leah not get many votes, I actually had two requests to remove her from the list in the first place. I think this says more about the readership of my blog and Twitter account than anything else. Leah is obviously a popular she-wolf, and I would hazard a guess (though I haven't got time to get the stats for this) there is more fanfiction written about her than any of the other nominees. I wonder how much different the voting would have been if any Twilight fans had found my poll?

One other piece of controversy was a vote for Bryn from Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Raised by Wolves. Some people felt that this vote didn't count, as Bryn is not 'technically' a werewolf, she is rather 'raised by wolves'. After some deliberation, I decided to let the vote for Bryn stand. Those of you who read my review of Raised by Wolves might remember that I ended it by suggesting that 'Snarling in anger and revelling in the unrestrained physical freedom of "running with the Pack", Bryn seems to be part-werewolf, despite the impossibility of this. This all raises an interesting question: is it nature or nurture that makes a werewolf?' For that reason, and since we didn't start this poll with a particular definition of 'werewolf', I'm going to let Bryn stay.

And so... with no further ado... to our winner...

Most Popular Female Werewolf

With a huge share of the votes, one werewolf undoubtedly proved herself the alpha female of the pack. She's feisty, sexy and ironically named. She's faced the midnight hour, gone to Washington and raised Hell. From the pen of best-selling author, Carrie Vaughn, she is, of course:

Kitty Norville


Take a bow, Kitty.


But wait... that's not all from the poll... we have another category (that I've just invented)...

As some of you may have noticed, another female werewolf attracted a large number of votes. L.L. Raand (aka Radclyffe)'s Sylvan Mir got a lot of write-in nominations. Some of you suggested that this was a case of spamming or ballot-stuffing, but I can assure you (since I can see the traffic sources for the blog) it wasn't. It was a write-in campaign by Raand's growing band of enthusiastic fans.

I'm going to cite precedent here (and I'd like to thank my good friend, Mike Whalley, for giving me this info). In 1991, the votes for the BBC Sports Person of the Year award were hugely skewed when The Angling Times encouraged all its readers to vote for award-winning angler Bob Nudd. Nudd got a dazzling 100,000 votes from Angling Times readers, despite the fact that the majority of BBC viewers hadn't actually heard of him. The BBC decided to discount these votes, and give the award to athlete Liz McColgan. I have to admit, Kitty Norville is the Liz McColgan of this race.

However, while the BBC decided to ignore the mobilization of Nudd's fans, I'm not going to do that with Raand's. Instead, I am going to name Sylvan Mir

Best New She-Wolf


She might not have the following Kitty has, but she's definitely one to watch. In December, I will be welcoming L.L. Raand (aka Radclyffe) as a guest blogger, and I'll also be posting reviews of the Midnight Hunters books.

So congratulations to Kitty and Sylvan, and to the other fantastic she-wolves that were nominated. And thank you to everyone who voted.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: Melissa Marr, Darkest Mercy (HarperCollins, 2011)



This review begins rather anecdotally. A few years ago, when I was in the first year of my PhD and had just turned my attention to fairies in medieval romance, I bought a book on a whim. The book, which was shelved next to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, was called Wicked Lovely and the blurb on the back read:
“Rule #3 Don’t stare at invisible faeries.
Rule #2 Don’t speak to invisible faeries.
Rule #1 Don’t ever attract their attention.”

I was (reasonably) intrigued by this, and by the funky cover, so I decided to buy it.



I didn’t expect too much of the book. I thought that modern fairies would probably be saccharine, Disney-inspired creations. I had no experience of reading urban fantasy, and assumed it would be a sort of cross between sci-fi and high fantasy. Hard as this might be to believe, I was also dubious about reading a book aimed at young adults. I hadn’t read a book aimed at teenagers since I was 12, and I’m pretty sure that was Sweet Valley High. Still, I decided to give it a go.

I took Wicked Lovely to a festival, so I had something to read in my tent when the weather was bad. It might sound corny, but I really wasn’t prepared for the impact that book would have on both my reading habits and my career. Suffice to say, I didn’t leave my tent much at the festival, and I’ve been hooked on YA urban fantasy since. By the time I came home, I was determined to read (and write) much more YA fantasy.

Since then, I’ve completed a manuscript of my own YA novel, and begun work on the sequel. I’ve also written several articles on YA, including one piece on Marr’s fiction, and written numerous blog posts and reviews of new YA releases. During this time, Marr has published four more titles in the Wicked Lovely series, as well as number of graphic novels and audiobooks in the series. Where Wicked Lovely began by telling the story of Aislinn, a high school stalked by the Summer King Keenan, the subsequent books in the series (Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows and Darkest Mercy) introduced a whole world of characters and fairy courts: Niall, Irial and the Hounds of the Dark Court; Sorcha, the embodiment of Order, and her twin sister Bananach; Aislinn’s once-mortal boyfriend Seth and close friend Leslie; and Donia, the Winter Girl of Wicked Lovely transformed into the powerful regent of Winter.

Marr’s fairies – like those of Holly Black – are very much in the medieval (rather than the Victorian) mode. They are callous, haughty, cruel – but also seductive, attractive and joyful. They are bound by an inability to lie, loyalty to their courts and centuries-old vows and oaths. Marr consistently follows Celtic (mostly Scottish and Irish) traditions, bringing to life some of the darker beings of folklore (the Ly Ergs and the Gancanagh, for instance), alongside original creations (like the Dark Court’s use of tattoo-spells to bind them to mortals). In addition to this, Marr’s characterization is well-observed and compelling – it is easy to have sympathy for all her characters, despite their marked differences and occasional ‘wrong’ behaviour.

And now, with the release of Darkest Mercy, the series comes to a close – with a climactic finale that brings the stories of all the characters to a (mostly) satisfying endpoint.

Darkest Mercy begins immediately after the events of Radiant Shadows. Bananach has attacked the Dark Court, leaving Irial injured and the daughter of the Hound Gabriel dead. A new court, the Shadow Court, has been formed, and the veil to Faeries has been sealed. The various regents – Keenan, Aislinn, Donia and Niall – are all suffering various turmoils, and no-one truly knows how to deal with War (as Bananach is known).

As a series finale, Darkest Mercy ticks a lot of boxes. It resolves a number of the plot-threads that have run through the series. For example, since Book One, the love triangle between Aislinn, Seth and Keenan has been a constant problem, only made worse when Keenan began a relationship with Donia. This storyline, I would say out of all of them, comes to a satisfying conclusion in the final book. (The epilogue of Darkest Mercy is a very clever piece of writing, and will definitely make fans of the series smile.)

The book also offers some development of what has gone before, particularly in its further exploration of the relationship between Irial and Niall. Antagonists in Ink Exchange, these two fairies have been intertwined since the second book. Darkest Mercy offers us more of their history, which is both heart-breaking and heart-warming. The final hint of the resolution of the Niall-Irial-Leslie triangle (which has always been so much more complicated and, in my opinion, more moving than the Aislinn-Keenan-Seth storyline) is a nice, and rather brave, touch to this YA fantasy.

The fifth book still holds some new introductions though. After the events of Radiant Shadows, Keenan seeks support from fairies not attached to any of the courts. These fairies, though only making a brief appearance in the novel, are fantastic creations, and reminded me of why I am such a fan of Marr’s writing. And it was nice to finally meet Far Dorcha – the Dark Man who has previously only been spoken of.

Reflecting on the series as a whole, it should be noted that Darkest Mercy is the endpoint of a gradual shift in the focus of the series. While Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange were very much urban fantasy, telling the story of ‘ordinary’ girls with one foot in the ‘real’ world and one (reluctant) foot in the supernatural, the subsequent books have focused more and more on Faerie. By Darkest Mercy, there is almost no mention of the ‘real’ world. Aislinn, the mortal girl with ‘Sight’ is now a powerful fairy embodiment of Summer; Leslie, who ended her book leaving her supernatural lovers and going to college, is now brought back into the otherworld. The only mortals who are mentioned in this final book are hapless bystanders, shielded from fairy conflict by Donia’s winter fey.

This is not necessarily a criticism, as Marr’s fairy world always seems to be grounded by the ‘modern’ and ‘human’ behaviours, mannerisms and language of its inhabitants. However, this shift made me realize how far the story had come, and how much the central characters have given up during their stories.

As a writer of YA fiction, Marr has always impressed me with her focus on the ‘adult’, rather than the ‘young’. While her books are more than suitable (and recommended) for teenage readers, they do not feel constrained or condescending. Marr tackles ‘difficult’ questions of death, addiction (to fairy love, if not to drugs or alcohol) and sexuality with a light touch. Her treatment of sex and sexual relationships is particularly striking, as her characters inhabit a range of identities (heterosexual, bisexual, polygamous and androgynous) without any heavy-handed moralizing or imposition of heteronormativity. I’d suggest that the only other YA writer who is comparable to Marr in this respect is Holly Black.

I am sad to say goodbye to the Wicked Lovely series. Darkest Mercy was a more than suitable farewell to characters I have come to love, and I suppose the good thing about books is that I can always read them again! My only criticism would be that not all the characters got to be a part of the finale. Some (Sorcha, Devlin, Ani and Rae) were notable by their absence. Still, this fills me with a little bit of optimism… maybe, one day, Marr will revisit those characters, and we’ll find out that the story isn’t quite finished.

CFP: 1st Global Conference: Monstrous Geographies: Places and Spaces of Monstrosity

Thursday 19th July – Saturday 21st July 2012

Mansfield College, Oxford

CALL FOR PAPERS:

What is the relationship between the monstrous and the geographic – those places monsters inhabit but also places that are configured as being monstrous in and of themselves? Places that engage notions of self and otherness, inclusion and exclusion, normal and aberrant, defense and contagion? From the Necropolis to the Killing Fields and from the Amityville Horror to the island of Dr. Moreau, geographical locations have acted as the repository or emanation of human evil, made monstrous by the rituals and behaviors enacted within them, or by their peculiarities of atmosphere or configuration. Whether actual or imagined, these places of wonder, fear and horror speak of the symbiotic relation between humanity and location that sees morality,
ideology and emotions given physical form in the house, the forest, the island, the nation and even far away worlds in both space and time. These places act as magnets for destructive and evil forces, such as the island of Manhattan; they are the source of malevolent energies and forces, such as Transylvania, Area 51 and Ringu; and they are the fulcrum for chaotic, warping energies, such as the Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis and Pandemonium. Alongside this, there exist the monstrous geographies created by scientific experimentation, human waste and environmental accidents, creating sites of potential and actual disaster such as the Chernobyl nuclear plant, the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil disaster, and the devastated coastline of Tohuku, Japan. These places raise diverse post-human quandaries regarding necessities in the present leading to real or imagined futures of humanity and habitation.

Encompassing the factual and the fictional, the literal and the literary, this project investigates the very particular relationships and interactions between humanity and place, the natural and the unnatural, the familiar and the unfamiliar, and sees a multitude of configurations of human monstrosity and evil projected, inflicted, or immanent to place. Such monstrous geographies can be seen to emerge from the disparity between past and present, memory and modernity, urban and rural and can be expressed through categories of class, gender and racial difference as well as generational, political and religious tensions.

Papers, reports, work-in-progress, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on issues related to any of the following themes:

Monstrous Cartographies:

~Terra incognita

~Real and Mythic lost lands: eg., Atlantis, D’yss, and Shangri-La

~Utopias/Dystopias, future cities in time and space

~Malevolent regions: eg., Lemuria, Bermuda Triangle, Transylvania

~Sublime landscapes

~Bodies as maps and maps as bodies, eg. Prison Break

Monstrous Islands:

~As sites of experimentation. Dr. Moreau, Jurassic Park etcAs a
beacon for evil: eg., Manhattan in Godzilla and Cloverfield

~As site of ritual evil and incest: eg., Wicker Man, Pitkin Islands,
Isle of the Dead

~Imperialist intent and construction: eg., Prospero’s Island, Hong
Kong, Hashima

Monstrous Cosmographies:

~Evil planets and dimensions

~Comets, meteorites and beings from unknown worlds

~Worlds as dark reflections/twins of Earth

~Planets and alien landscapes that consume and mutate earthly
travelers

Monstrous Environmental Geographies:

~Polluted lakes and landscapes

~Landfills, oil spills and mining sites

~Melting icecaps and landforms at risk from global warming

~Land impacted by GM crops and associated experimentation

~Sites of starvation, disaster and pestilence

~De-militarized zones and no-man’s lands

Monstrous Religious Sites & Ritualistic Monstrosity:

~Armageddon, Apocalypse and final battlegrounds

~Hell, the Underworld and Valhalla

~Eden, Paradise, El Dorado, Shangri La

~Sites of religious ritual, sacrifice and burial

~Houses and haunts of murderers and serial killers

Monstrous Political Environments

~The land of the enemy and the other

~Sites of attack and retaliation.

~Sites of revolution and protest

~Landscapes of incarceration

~Border crossings

~Magical realist landscapes of escape

~Ghettos, shanty towns and relocation sites

~Urban and rural, cities, towns and villages and regional and
national prejudice

Monstrous Landscapes of Conflict:

~Battlefields and military graveyards

~Concentration camps and sites of genocide

~Minefields and sites of damage, destruction and ruin

~Arsenals, bunkers and military experimentation

Uncanny Geographical Temporalities:

~Old buildings in new surroundings

~Buildings with too much, and those without, memory

~Soulless Architecture

~Ideological architecture, palaces, museums etc

~Places held in time, UNESCO sites and historical and listed
buildings

~Old towns and New towns, rich and poor

~Appearing and disappearing towns/regions, eg., Brigadoon, Silent
Hill.

Monsters on the Move:

~Contagion, scouring and infectious landscapes

~Monsters and mobile technologies: phone, video, cars, planes,
computers etc

~Fluid identities, fluid places

~Touring Monstrosities, dreamscapes and infernal topologies

This project will run concurrently with our project on Apocalypse – we welcome any papers considering the problems or addressing issues on Monstrous Geographies and Apocalypse for a cross-over panel. We also welcome pre-formed panels on any aspect of monstrous geographies or in relation to crossover panel(s).

300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 27th February 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 25th May 2012.

300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: Monstrous Geographies Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in
cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Jessica Rapson
Goldsmiths University,
London,
United Kingdom

Rob Fisher
Network Founder & Leader, Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Freeland, Oxfordshire
United Kingdom

The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume. Some papers may also be invited for inclusion in the Journal of Monsters and the Monstrous.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: 1st Global Conference: Apocalypse: Imagining the End

Thursday 19th July – Saturday 21st July 2012

Mansfield College, Oxford

Call for Papers:

From Christian concept of the “Apocalypse” to the Hindu notions of the Kali Yuga, visions of destruction and fantasies of the “end times” have a long history. One purpose of the conference is to explore these ideas by situating them in context – historical, literary, cultural, political, and economic (to name a few). However, the modern period is especially marked by a mixed sense of concern and fascination with apocalypse, and today we are surrounded by scenarios of imminent destruction and annihilation. The second aim of conference is therefore to examine today’s widespread fascination the apocalyptic thought, and to understand its appeal across broad sections of contemporary society around the world.

Papers, reports, work-in-progress, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on issues related to (but not limited to) the following themes:

* Decline, Collapse, and Decay

* The Second Coming

* The Hindu Kali Yuga

* Sex at the End of Time

* Ironic and/or Anti-Apocalyptic Thinking

* Utopia, Redemption and Rebirth

* Intentional Communities as Communities of the End Times

* Selling the Apocalypse, Commodifying Disaster, and Marketing the End Times

* Death Tourism and Disaster Capitalism

* The Age of Terror

* Global Warming and Its Denial

* Zombies, Vampires, and Werewolves in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

* Disaster Fiction/Movies

* History as Apocalypse

* 2012

* Remembering and Reliving the Collapse of the Western Roman Empire

* Technology and Mass Destruction

This project will run concurrently with our project on Monstrous Geographies we welcome any papers considering the problems or addressing issues on Apocalypse: Imagining the End and Monstrous Geographies for a cross-over panel. We also welcome pre-formed panels on any aspect of tmonstrous geographies or in relation to crossover panel(s). Papers will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 17th February 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be
submitted by Friday 23rd May 2012. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Apocalypse Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Charles W. Nuckolls
Department of Anthropology,
Brigham Young University,
USA

Rob Fisher
Network Founder and Leader, Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Freeland, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

The conference is part of the ‘Ethos’ series of research projects, which in turn belong to the Critical Issues programmes of ID.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and
interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be published in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into 20-25 page chapters for
publication in a themed dialogic ISBN hard copy volume.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: Capturing Witches: Histories, Stories, Images.

400 years after the Lancashire Witches.

17-19 August
Lancaster, UK

2012 will mark the 400th anniversary of the trial and execution of the Lancashire Witches. This conference is part of a year long programme of events which will take place in Lancaster and the surrounding area. This interdisciplinary conference uses the Lancashire witches as a focal point to engage with wider questions about witchcraft, and in particular how witchcraft is theorised and represented in and through history and across cultures.

CALL FOR PAPERS:

This interdisciplinary conference uses the Lancashire witches as a focal point to engage with wider questions about witchcraft: its definitions as maleficium will focus particular attention on how witchcraft is theorised and represented in and through history and across cultures. We particularly encourage considerations of literary, musical, artistic and filmic representations of witchcraft.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers and panels on witches and/or witchcraft which might address - but are not limited to - the following themes:

- antiquity;

- religion and belief;

- Neo-Paganism;

- the developing world;

- human rights;

- gender;

- corporeality;

- location;

- ritual (ceremony, performance, magical practice);

- childhood;

- language;

- law;

- consumption ( dress, fashion, food);

- the arts (literature, music, film, painting, dance, theatre, graphic novels);

- the Gothic;

- new media

Proposals for contributions which go beyond the conventional academic format are also welcome.
Proposals (paper: 250 words, panel/other format: 500 words) including a 50-word bio for each contributor should be sent to the conference team by 1 December 2011 to the conference organizers. Decisions on submissions will be made by 31 January 2012. For more information, see the conference website.

Conference team: Charlotte Baker, Alison Findlay, Liz Oakley-Brown, Elena Semino, Catherine Spooner

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Review: Bree Despain, The Lost Saint (Egmont, 2011)



The Lost Saint is the sequel to Bree Despain’s YA werewolf fantasy The Dark Divine. The first book told the story of Grace Divine, the daughter of a pastor, and her relationship with Daniel Kalbi, a boy she has known since childhood. Daniel was near enough a member of Grace’s family, and was best friends with her and her brother Jude, but disappeared without warning some time before the novel begins. The Dark Divine tells the story of what happens when Daniel returns, and how Grace struggles to come to terms with the terrible secret that led him to run away.

Daniel is an Urbat, infected with a curse that causes a wolf demon to cohabit his body. If he gives in to his wolf, and commits a predatory act against a human, he will become a werewolf and will be lost forever. In the first book, seventeen-year-old Grace must deal with Daniel’s awful secret, as well as with her growing romantic feelings for him. In the end, she discovers that she is the one who holds the key to saving Daniel’s soul, and must make a horrible choice that leaves Daniel fighting for his life and Jude condemned to life as a werewolf.

The Lost Saint picks up the story ten months after the final events of The Dark Divine. Daniel has been ‘cured’ by Grace’s sacrifice; Jude – now a werewolf – has run away, and the Divine family is falling to pieces as a result. Perhaps more importantly, Grace has become infected with the Urbat curse and is beginning to learn what this might mean.

When Daniel appears to abandon Grace, insisting that she stops training to be a ‘Hound of Heaven’ (i.e. an Urbat warrior who learns to control their wolf and fight for the good of humanity), Grace becomes confused. The arrival of Gabriel Saint Moon, the legendary Urbat whose letters Grace read in The Dark Divine, does little to alleviate the confusion. Add to this the intrusion of a handsome stranger into Grace’s life, cryptic messages from Jude to Grace and best friend April, and the fact that the “Markham Street Monster” was never actually caught at the end of the first book, and Grace’s new life promises to be less than easy.

In many ways, The Dark Divine and The Lost Saint are typical YA urban fantasy/dark romance. True to genre, we have a teen heroine who meets a brooding young man, is both angered by him and drawn to him, and discovers he is a supernatural being. Like many YA books of this genre, Grace must come to terms with her first love, as well as with the fact that the world is not as straightforward as she previously thought. Sure enough, like many teen heroines, we see Grace navigate family problems, friendships and schoolwork, alongside her new relationship with the obligatory ‘supernatural hottie’.

However, Despain’s books also buck many of the trends of the genre, and I feel that it is in their resistance to certain stereotypical elements of dark romance that they are most interesting.

The first major difference lies with Despain’s werewolves. Daniel does not want to be a werewolf. And we’re not talking some Cullen-esque angst here: he really does not want to be a werewolf. In this, though, he is wise. In the world of Despain’s novels, to be a werewolf is not a good thing. It is possible, with care, focus and the help of a moonstone, to utilize the Urbat powers to help save human lives from other demons, but once an Urbat gives in to the anger and rage of the wolf inside them, they become something truly monstrous.

This is an interesting deviation from the more usual portrayal of werewolves in YA fiction. In other books – and I’m thinking particularly of Maggie Stiefvater and Andrea Cremer’s YA excellent YA werewolf fiction here – to be a werewolf is to embrace a sort of primal, raw power and a connection with other natural phenomena and living beings. While Despain’s werewolves share certain characteristics with those of Stiefvater and Cremer (like accelerated healing, heightened senses and increased physical strength), they are most definitely not ‘liberated’ by the transformation.

This results in Despain's stories being narratives of control (with control posited as a good thing). The Urbat is made up of two beings – human and wolf – and an internal battle rages for control. In places, this becomes almost a Jekyll and Hyde-type inner conflict, and the consequences for letting the Hyde-wolf take over are presented as wholly negative.

I’m sure there are werewolf fans who will be shocked or annoyed by this presentation. In recent years, there has been an investment in the ‘good’ werewolf that (I would suggest) even outstrips the investment in the ‘good’ vampire. But, as with vampires, there is no right or wrong way of presenting werewolves. I like the idea of bad, irredeemable werewolves, as much as I like the idea of sympathetic ones. Despain’s creatures are complex, and all the more interesting for swimming against the tide of YA fantasy.

What this ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ set up does is make Grace’s story one about learning to understand the competing forces that operate inside you, and about how to determine and exercise control. While this might seem rather punitive, The Lost Saint suggests that it should be seen as empowering. Grace contemplates this throughout the book:

“It had felt wonderful then… like nothing I’d known before. But this was so much more than that. Not merely energy transferred from someone else. This came from inside of me. This was my power. And no one could take it away from me.” (p. 128)
Like most YA heroines, Grace has to learn how to use this newfound power in order to make some very difficult decisions. However, once again, Despain offers something different. Though she wants to, Grace does not actually learn how to ‘kick ass’ – quite the opposite in fact. As at the end of The Dark Divine, the final choice that Grace makes in The Lost Saint is really quite astounding, and I found myself holding my breath as I read on to see if she really could go through with it.

It should be apparent from this review, for those not yet familiar with Despain’s novels, that these stories take place very much within a Christian framework. Grace Divine, as her name suggests, is Christian, and the Urbat curse is a threat to the soul of the ‘infected’ rather than a danger to the body (unlike in Maggie Stiefvater’s fiction, in which the werewolf ‘infection’ dramatically shortens lifespan but does not ‘curse’ the wolf eternally). Grace’s father is a pastor, but it is made absolutely clear that the heroine is not simply following what she has been told – she is a believer herself.

I am not a Christian, and I, like many readers, have some reservations about the ways in which religious teachings are used in some YA fiction (*cough*Twilight*cough*). However, I found the way in which Christianity was handled in The Lost Saint to be both interesting and thought-provoking.

As I say, Grace herself is a believer. The first person narrative allows for us to see her occasional internal debate around her belief in God. Rather than presenting us with a heroine attempting to live up to a set of expectations imposed on her by patriarchal figures, Despain gives us a young woman who looks at the world from a particular perspective and thinks carefully about the choices she makes. This is especially evident in Grace’s decision not to have pre-marital sex. The book never actually tells us whether Daniel wants to or not (though Grace is aware that he isn’t a virgin). Grace’s own sexual desire is mentioned, but she places this (quite frankly) within her own system of beliefs. Unlike other heroines who feel the burden of societal expectations placed on them from outside, Grace decides not to have sex with Daniel because she doesn’t believe it is right. Whether or not you share Grace’s beliefs, she comes across as a thoughtful young woman who makes up her own mind. Moreover, her Christianity is just one aspect of her characterization, and religious elements do not overpower the narrative - as much time is given to describing Grace suiting up for her first martial arts lesson as to her religious belief that sex before marriage is wrong.

Admittedly, the strength of Grace's convictions meant that I occasionally found her a tiny bit prissy. She is quite adamant that drinking alcohol is wrong, and, at one point, is shocked that her best friend April spells out the word “B-I-T-C-H”. I wonder if my annoyance at this says more about my own alcohol-fuelled and profanity-laden late-teens (and, fuck it, adulthood too) than it does about Despain’s character? I guess adults who read YA often identify with the characters as the teens they wished they had been. The examples given here were the points at which I found it hardest to identify with Grace.

Aside from this, the only other point in the book where I felt uneasy about the portrayal of Grace’s character was when, as she begins to succumb to the ‘wolf’, she becomes enflamed with animal lust for Daniel and leaps on him. Grace appears, at this point, to be displaying the kind of raw sexual energy that we find associated with female werewolves in much contemporary fiction. And yet this is also a scene in which a young woman discovers the pleasures of unmoderated sexual behaviour for the first time. It was very reminiscent of a scene in Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate, in which the heroine (Vivien) reveals her ‘wolf’ to her boyfriend for the first time (in bed). In The Lost Saint, as in Clause’s novel, the young woman is left feeling nothing but shame and disgust at her own animal lust. But while Vivien is able to realize that this shame is actually a reflection of how others see her femininity and sexuality, Grace is left with nothing but the conviction that it was a sign of her becoming a “monster”. I hope that, as Grace matures and her story continues in the next book in the series, she is able to better explore this aspect of her identity.

Despite this criticism, I highly recommend The Lost Saint (though it’s best to read The Dark Divine first). The storyline is compelling, and the central characters likable and sympathetic. Though I have categorized it as ‘dark romance’, the book is also a mystery, with well-sustained tension and suspense. And the ending is so heart-breaking (and so unexpected), it made me quite anxious to read the third book in the series (The Savage Grace)… we really can’t be left hanging like that for too long (though I believe I will have to wait until March 2012)!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Gender and Medieval Studies Conference 2012: Gender and Punishment

Martin Harris Centre, University of Manchester
11-13 January 2012

Registration is now open for GMS 2012: Gender and Punishment. Click here to register or here to visit the conference website.

Programme

Wednesday 11 January

12:45-1:45pm: Registration (Foyer)

1:45pm: Welcome and Opening Remarks by Dr. Anke Bernau (University of Manchester) (John Thaw Studio Theatre)

2-3:30pm: Keynote Lecture (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: Professor Gale Owen-Crocker (University of Manchester)
Professor Dawn Hadley (University of Sheffield): Masculinity and Mass Graves in Anglo-Saxon England

3:30-4pm: Coffee (Foyer)

4-5:30pm: Parallel Sessions

Panel 1a: Torture and Spectacle (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) David Matthews (University of Manchester): “Take example, and thereof beware”: The Medieval Execution Ritual
(ii) Megan Welton (University of Notre Dame): Diversis angustiata cruciatibus: Adelheid of Italy and Tenth-Century Capture, Torture, and Gender
(iii) Iain MacInnes (UHI Centre for History): “A somewhat too cruel vengeance was taken for the blood of the slain”: punishment of rebels and traitors in medieval Scotland, c.1100-c.1400

Panel 1b: Holy Women and Punishment (G16)
Chair: TBC
(i) Jessica Cheetham (University of Bristol): Mechthild of Magdeburg and Vicarious Punishment
(ii) Clare Monagle (Monash University): Authority and Punishment in the Letters of Hildegard of Bingen and Catherine of Siena
(iii) Kate E. Bush (The Catholic University of America): Cani Giudei: Anti-Semitism in the Sermons of Saint Catherine of Bologna

5:30pm: Close

6pm: Wine reception at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (Engine House, Cambridge Street)

*****

Thursday 12 January

9:30-11am: Parallel Sessions

Panel 2a: Space and Punishment (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Sergi Sancho Fibla (Universitat Pompeu Fabra): Marguerite d’Oingt’s Pagina Meditationum. The female hell for the “brothers of flies”
(ii) Polly Stevens Fields (University of Nevada, Reno): Reconsideration of Hrothwissa’s Convent Dramas: Source and Site of Female Punishment in Paphnutius
(iii) Kristin Distel (Ashland University): Holy Fear as Incentive for Enclosure

Panel 2b: Presence and Absence in Punishment (G16)
Chair: TBC
(i) Drew Maxwell (University of Edinburgh): “Traytur untrew and trowthles”: Women's roles as punishers and teachers in the concept of trowth within Ywain and Gawain and Sir Launfal
(ii) Hannah Priest (University of Manchester): “De l’altre part la dame a prise”: Hiding Punitive Violence Against Women in Insular Romance
(iii) Carl G. Martin (Norwich University): “Par destresce e par poür”: Bisclavret’s Constrained Bodies

11-11:30am: Coffee (Foyer)

11:30-1pm: Parallel Sessions

Panel 3a: Law and Punishment (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Daniela Fruscione (University of Frankfurt): Adultery, gender and punishment in the 7th century: Legal and social frames
(ii) Charlene M. Eska (Virginia Tech): Castration in Early Irish Law
(iii) Gillian R. Overing (Wake Forest University): Within Striking Distance: Gender, Insult and Injury in Some Anglo-Saxon Laws

Panel 3b: Virgins and Punishment (G16)
Chair: TBC
(i) Christine Williamson (University of York): The Moment of Death in the Passiones of the Virgin Martyrs: Exploring Gendered Forms of Execution in Medieval Hagiography
(ii) Sarah Schäfer (University of Paderborn): “Letting Satan in…” On teeth, tongues, throats and symbolic defloration in Female Saints’ Legends
(iii) Stavroula Constantinou (University of Cyprus): Holy Violence: Crime and Punishment in the Miracles of Saint Thecla

1-2pm: Lunch (Foyer)

2-3:30pm: Parallel Sessions

Panel 4a: Punitive Scripts of Selfhood (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Emily Rhodes (University of Bristol): Punishment & Imitatio Christi: Medieval Holy Women Creating Purgatory
(ii) Sarah Macmillan (University of Birmingham): Punishment, Pain and the Invisible Injuries of Christina Mirabilis
(iii) Michelle M. Sauer (University of North Dakota): Devotional Violence and Sacred Sacrifice: Asceticism, Flagellation, and Penetration in A Talkyng of the Loue of Gode

Panel 4b: Gendered Punishment (G16)
Chair: TBC
(i) Rachel Jones (Cardiff University): Punishing the Unruly Female Saint: The Anomalous Case of Mary Magdalene
(ii) Inna Matyushina (University of Exeter): Punishments in Chastity Tests
(iii) Anastasija Ropa and Edgar Rops (University of Wales, Bangor): Gender specific punishment in the ‘Queste del Saint Graal’ and contemporary legal practice

3:30-4pm: Coffee (Foyer)

4-5:30pm: Keynote Lecture (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: Dr. Anke Bernau (University of Manchester)
Professor Karen Pratt (King’s College, London): Does the punishment fit the crime, or only the person? The intersection of gender, class and punishment in Old French
Literature

5:30pm: Close

7pm: Conference Dinner at Felicini (Oxford Road)

*****

Friday 13 January

9:30-11am: Parallel Sessions

Panel 5a: Uncanny Bodies and Punishment (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Stephen Gordon (University of Manchester): Post-Mortem Punishment and the Fear of the Errant Corpse in Writings of William of Newburgh
(ii) Patricia Skinner (University of Swansea): The Gendered Nose and its Lack – some thoughts on medieval rhinectomy
(iii) Katja Fält (University of Jyväskylä, Finland): Men, Women and Devils - Representations of Gender and the Diabolic in the Late-Medieval Wall Paintings of the Diocese of Turku (Finland)

Panel 5b: Discipline and Punish (G16)
Chair: TBC
(i) Kathy Frances (University of Manchester): Penance and Punishment: The Male Body and Masculine Bonds in John Audelay the Blind’s Counsel of Conscience
(ii) Frank Battaglia (College of Staten Island/CUNY): Boys Should Be Heroes: Beowulf’s disciplinary discourse
(iii) Rachel Friedensen (Western Michigan University): Si invita passa est: Consent and Gender in Anglo-Saxon and Frankish Penitentials
11-11:30am Coffee (Foyer)

11:30-12:30pm: Panel 6: Timely Punishment (John Thaw Studio Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Beverly R. Sherringham (Farmingdale State College, New York): The Graceful Fall: Medieval Misogyny as a Redemptive Precursor to an Egalitarian Society
(ii) Daisy Black (University of Manchester): Troublesome Flotsam: Verbal Resurrections of a Drowned Past

12:30-1:30pm: Lunch (Foyer)

1:30-2:30pm: GMS Business Meeting (G16)

3-4:15pm: Optional Workshops

(i) John Rylands Library Manuscript Collections (John Rylands Library, Deansgate)
or
(ii) The Heronbridge Skeletons (led by Dr. Bryan Sitch) (Manchester Museum, Oxford Road)

4:15pm Conference Close

*****

Registration is now open. Click here to register. For more information, visit the conference website or the University of Manchester website, or email the conference convenors.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Review of the Bram Stoker International Film Festival (Sunday & Monday)

Whitby 29-31 October 2011

This is part two of a two-part review. You can see my review of Friday and Saturday here.

Sunday (for RS and me) started with Axed (Ryan Lee Driscoll), a dark and witty British horror feature. Kurt Wendell loses his job – a victim of the global financial crisis – and the tension begins to show in his relationship with his family. He surprises them with a daytrip to the countryside… though ‘surprise’ is probably a bit of an understatement. Kurt is losing his mind, and the title of the film should give a good hint of what is to come. Axed is wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, and the lead actor (stand-up comedian Jonathan Hansler) played his role with a fantastic mixture of sinister menace and maniacal exuberance. There were, unfortunately, a couple of continuity errors, which might be a result of the shoot taking less than three weeks! But otherwise, RS and I agreed that this was definitely one of the best films of the festival. The cast and crew took a Q and A after the screening, and the director announced that he has just signed a distribution contract. I’d recommend you watch out for this one.

Next up was Shadows (John Penney), which stars Cary Elwes and William Hurt (surely the most prestigious cast of the festival). Set in Thailand, this feature told the story of Jeff Mathews, who survives a car accident that kills his wife and child. Troubled by visions of the dead, Jeff realizes that his soul has remained in the ‘Shadowlands’ and he must go on a scary journey to the underworld to ‘reunite’ with himself. Filmed on location (including some scenes on the River Kwai), Shadows clearly had a far bigger budget than the other films shown at the festival, and the direction and shooting were excellent (not to mention the acting by Elwes and Hurt). Though the story wasn’t the most original, this film felt very much like a mainstream release. The Q and A with writer/director Penney revealed that there has been a problem securing distribution, and so release had been put on hold. This is a shame, as Shadows definitely holds its own against recent studio releases.



Two features wrapped up Sunday for us. Bruce Ornstein’s Vamperifica was a comedy horror (complete with musical number, ‘Ha Bloody Ha’) in which two of the world's last surviving vampires have sworn to bring back their dead king (Raven), but discover that he has been reincarnated as a bitchy and camp wannabe actor called Carmen. Vamperifica was good fun, though a little predictable and didn’t really go anywhere. I’d watch it again though, as it was engaging and (in places) rather witty. And finally, we watched Baby Shower (Pablo Illanes), a rather brutal and bleak Chilean horror. Angela is pregnant with twins, and her friends (Claudia, Manuela, Olivia and Ivana) arrive at her secluded home to throw her a baby shower. Angela has a troubled past, and the truth about her relationship with husband Felipe is revealed slowly as the film progresses. She has become involved with a sort of spiritual leader, and does not welcome the intrusion of her ‘friends’. Things take a turn for the violent, and a series of gruesome attacks occur (including a brutal rape, a man hoisted onto a meat hook and something involving a silver cocaine straw that still makes me a little queasy). Overall, the film was very enjoyable, though full of very bloody and graphic violence. RS and I were a little divided on our final verdict though. He felt the film was rather confusing, with too much left unexplained, whereas I thought it was one of those films that make the audience work a little harder than usual. We also couldn’t decide whether the ‘spiritual leader’ was a Wicker Man-type Pagan or a devil worshipper. Apparently it’s a very fine line…

As a side note, when we got back to our guesthouse, we just couldn’t resist the lure of the B-movies, and watched Omega Cop - crazy post-apocalyptic fun starring Adam West. About as different as you can get from Baby Shower!

Monday was the final day of the festival, and due a long drive home, we couldn’t stay for all the films. What we did see caused some strong feelings though…

The first screening was a selection of shorts by Elisabeth and Brenda Fies. Hard to Do was a comedy horror drawing heavily from Dexter. A man kidnaps his ex-girlfriend and therapist in order to terrorize them. There were some funny lines, but I was too distracted by numerous continuity gaffs (like disappearing tape and a missing drill bit). Scrutinize was based on an urban legend about a woman getting onto a train and seeing two men holding up an apparently unconscious girl; Faux showed a glamorous woman driving down Rodeo Drive, before returning to a slum apartment and removing all the artificial aids to her glamour (false nails, breasts, butt enhancements, eyelashes and wig). Finally, Scream Queen was a slasher-type horror, but with a ‘victim’ who pulls back at the last minute and begins criticizing the film in a brattish way – revealing that we are actually watching a film being shot. The entire selection was poor and fairly lacklustre, as well as being poorly made in places, and RS and I were left wondering why a whole session had been devoted to the work of these filmmakers (but more on that below).

Next was a screening of Joseph Maddrey’s Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film. As many readers will already be familiar with this documentary (or with Maddrey’s book on which it is based), I won’t say too much about it. Suffice to say, this is a fabulous survey of the genre, with insightful comments from influential filmmakers (John Carpenter and George A. Romero, particularly, won our hearts).

So, finally, our last selection of six shorts. Playthings: Hunt (Wade K. Savage) was a promotional short for a forthcoming feature film, in which two young women are hunted through the woods and must do some horrible things to survive. I really enjoyed this short – almost all the violence took place off-camera, and no explanations were offered, which worked really well. This was all about atmosphere, tension, and the audience’s own imagination, and was a great example of how to make a genuinely scary film on a small budget. Next, Juan Con Miedo [Fearful John] (Daniel Romero) was a Pan’s Labyrinth-inspired Spanish horror, in which two children - Maria and Juan - shelter from a storm and read an unsettling fairy tale in an apparently abandoned house. Stylish and creepy, this film’s debt to Guillermo del Toro was impossible to deny. Next, The Furred Man (Paul Williams) was a brilliant British (and very British) comedy horror about the interrogation of Max Naughton (a campsite owned who is, for the duration of the short, wearing a werewolf costume) for a series of brutal murders on his property. The hapless Max tells his story to two sceptical police officers, and the truth is finally revealed. This short was absolutely wonderful – funny, but with a good dash of horror, and all beautifully underplayed by Daniel Carter-Hope as Max. And after this gem, we had Sacrifice (sadly, I didn’t catch the name of the director and haven’t been able to find this film online). This was a stylish modern Gothic about a priest who hunts vampires. It didn’t do anything new plotwise, but was visually stunning.

Unfortunately, the next film really put a downer on the day for us. We’d seen the cast/crew promoting Attack of the Martian Mutant From Mars during the weekend, and from what we could see it was going to be a spoof B-movie. While this was, in a way, true, the film (which was hardly a ‘short’ at half an hour long) was a joke project by Neal Harvey of Rubber Gorilla Mask Making Studio. Shot in shaky black-and-white, and supposedly mimicking the bad acting and implausible plots of earlier monster movies, this film felt like a (bad) student film project. The humour was heavy-handed (mostly revolving around the vague use of the word ‘science’ and the fact that the main character smoked a pipe), and the filming amateurish. It massively missed the point of the B-movies that allegedly inspired it – however silly those films were, they always took themselves seriously. What really riled RS and me was the fact that this film featured the son of the festival director and, clearly, many of his friends. I was also shocked to see Elisabeth Fies (who I have mentioned above) appear, which explained why she and her sister were offered a full session of their own films earlier in the day. This was a piece of self-indulgent nonsense, which had no place at a serious horror film festival. As far as we could see, this was the festival directors letting their friends mess about on the big screen, which was a bit disrespectful to the serious filmmakers who had shown their films and, in some cases, travelled a long way to attend the festival.

Nevertheless, we had one final ‘real’ film on offer before we had to leave. Jonathan Martin’s An Evening With My Comatose Mother was a 33-minute Hallowe’en horror, giving a twist on the ‘terrorized babysitter’ movie. Dorothy is called in to look after the catatonic mother of Alice Poe… and bad things happen. The film was well-made, with some pretty creepy set pieces. In the Q and A afterwards, director Martin said that the film was made on a $10,000 budget, and this certainly showed in the production values. However, the premise and execution seemed a little dated – though maybe I’ve just seen too many babysitter horror films. Martin said he is planning a feature film, as the short has been well-received. It might not be the most original film ever, but I would definitely watch a feature-length Evening With My Comatose Mother, maybe on a dark and creepy Saturday night.

Final thoughts on the festival? I’m not sure it quite lived up to last year’s success. The focus on indie horror was good – though I did enjoy the classic movies in last year’s programme. But the organizers seemed to have different priorities this year. By taking over Hallowe’en weekend – meaning that the main events of the Whitby Goth Weekend were moved to the following week – the festival promoters were obviously trying to cash in on the number of Goths who flock to Whitby at Hallowe’en. For this reason, a number of non-film-related events threatened to overshadow the screenings, designed as they were to pull in cash-laden Goths instead of indie horror geeks. As noted, Monday’s programme was too self-indulgent for our tastes, and seemed to imply a lack of respect for the hardworking filmmakers who were showing their films.

This is a real shame, as the festival has the potential to be a great horror film festival. I mean… come on… horror films at Hallowe’en in Whitby, you shouldn’t be able to go wrong. And if we ignore the questionable choices on the final day, this year’s schedule was really good. I would love to see the festival return to showing a range of good quality indie horror, coupled with a few classics for balance. RS and I will definitely look forward to seeing what’s on offer in 2012.

Next year’s festival will take place on 25-28 October. For more details, visit the festival website.

You can see the awards given out by the festival here, but here are mine and RS’s ‘awards’:

Best Feature: Vampires (Vincent Lannoo)

Second Best Feature: Axed (Ryan Lee Driscoll)

Best Short: The Furred Man (Paul Williams)

You can see my review of Friday and Saturday at the festival here.

Review of the Bram Stoker International Film Festival (Friday & Saturday)

Whitby 29-31 October 2011

This is part one of a two-part review. You can see my review of Sunday and Monday here.

In October, my partner (RS) and I headed to Whitby for the Bram Stoker International Film Festival. The festival is an annual event, showcasing horror features, shorts and documentaries from around the globe. I attended last year’s festival, which featured a number of classic Hammer horror films alongside independent shorts and features. This year’s programme promised a greater focus on indie films, as well as a Vampire Ball, a couple of live performances and horror-themed stalls and merchandise. So… here’s what we thought…

We arrived in Whitby on Thursday and the festival started on Friday. RS hadn’t been to Whitby before, but I’ve been many times – I was a Gothy teenager, so it’s only to be expected. I mention this only to explain why we spent Friday morning wandering around the town, and didn’t arrive at the film festival itself until the 2.30pm screening. This was a duo of shorts, followed by a feature (all of which were allegedly premiering at the festival). First up was Zombiefication, a seven-minute short (available to watch on the YouTube). The film is a fairly fun little take on a safety instruction video, offering a guide to how to deal with a zombie outbreak in a movie theatre. Following this was the French short Cabine of the Dead (Vincent Templement). Again, this was a zombie outbreak film, with a man called Patrick trapped in a phone booth, trying desperately to call for help. The production values and acting were excellent, and the basic idea (though not completely original) was compelling.

However, this leads to my first criticism of the festival as a whole. In the course of writing this review, I happened to look up a few of the films online. I was a bit disappointed to find that the screening of Cabine of the Dead was far from being a premiere, as the short was shown at a number of other festivals prior to the Bram Stoker Festival. I suspect ‘premiere’ on the programme meant ‘UK premiere’, but it would have been better if this had been made clearer.

This session was finished off with the 2008 Chilean-American feature film Descendants – AKA Solos – directed by Jorge Olguin (again, not strictly a 'premiere'). This post-apocalyptic zombie infection movie told the story of Camille, a young girl born with an undefined genetic immunity to the ‘infection’ that is destroying humanity. Highlights included the good (and somewhat unsettling) portrayal of Camille and the development of the ‘beware of other survivors’ trope. However, the film was somewhat let down by a very odd ending involving a giant squid (which was almost entirely incomprehensible). Up to the final scene, though, RS and I thoroughly enjoyed Descendants.

The next screening was the undoubted highpoint of the festival for us. The Belgian ‘documentary’ Vampires (Vincent Lannoo) followed a family of vampires living in modern-day Belgium. George Saint-Germain, his wife Bertha and their ‘children’ Grace and Samson share their daily (or, rather, nightly) lives with a rather nervous film crew. The film was beautifully shot and acted, and very funny in places. Yet it was also creepy, sinister and, at times, really rather dark. This was without doubt our favourite film of the festival, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.



Next was a selection of short films, each retelling a story by Edgar Allen Poe. We had a black-and-white Spanish version of El Corazon Delator [The Telltale Heart], which had the feel of a much older horror film (which is not necessarily a bad thing). This was followed by The Raven, featuring a Professor Yaffle-like raven that was surprisingly sinister, then a ‘Ray Harryhausen Presents…’ retelling of The Pit and the Pendulum. Finally, we had a very dark animated version of Annabel Lee. We did disagree about which of these shorts were the best. RS preferred The Raven, in part because he has a real soft spot for this poem (and he did like the animatronic raven). But I loved Annabel Lee for its puppet Edgar Allen Poe (with nails in his eyes!) and the very creepy baby-doll angels. We were in complete agreement about The Pit and the Pendulum, though, which was a silly little short, missing most of Poe’s original story and with the feel of a kid’s cartoon rather than a horror short.

We decided to call it a night after the Poe shorts, and go for dinner. I do just want to add a word about the guesthouse we were staying in. Prospect House was clean, friendly and welcoming. But one of the highlights for us was the collection of DVDs available for guests to watch – particularly the superb selection of B-movie horror. As if we hadn’t got enough films to watch, we decided to end the night with Psycho Cop. Not exactly of the same quality as the films shown at the festival, but very, very funny.

On Saturday, we were also a bit rubbish at getting to the start of the screenings. Instead of heading straight to the festival, we spent the morning at Whitby Abbey – possibly one of my favourite places in the UK.



We got to the Pavilion at 3pm for Cassadaga (Anthony DiBlasi). This was a rather disjointed feature, telling the story of a deaf woman (Lily) who moves to Cassadaga (the ‘psychic capital of America’) following the death of her younger sister. Lily takes part in a séance, which leads to her being attacked by the ghost of a murdered woman. She decides to investigate the murder, which was apparently at the hands of a deranged psychopath attempting to build a woman-marionette. The problem with Cassadaga was that it appeared to be several different films sewn together. Lily’s story had the tone and plotting of a TV movie about coming to terms with grief; the séance storyline (complete with spiritual black woman in tribal-esque clothes) was more psychological thriller; the marionette killer felt more like Saw-inspired torture porn. Everything about these storylines was different – from the lighting and direction to the levels of violence and sexual reference. Lily’s story was by far the weakest, with way too much backstory (some of which didn’t go anywhere) and over-sentimentalization. Anyone who follows me or RS on Twitter might be aware of our recent Saw binge, so it should come as no surprised that we thought the strongest part of the film was the deranged puppet man. It’s a shame that these elements didn’t come together to create a coherent narrative.

No more films for Saturday, as we decided to go to the Vampire Ball (compered by the wonderful Rosie Lugosi).

You can read my review of Sunday and Monday here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

CFP: Current Research in Speculative Fictions 2012

Call for Papers

Monday 18th June 2012
University of Liverpool

Keynote Lectures from: Professor David Seed (University of Liverpool), Professor Fred Botting (Kingston University London)

Now in its second year, the CRSF is a one day postgraduate conference designed to promote the research of speculative fictions, including science fiction, fantasy and horror, showcasing some of the latest developments in these dynamic and evolving fields. Last year’s conference attracted an international selection of delegates and provided a platform for postgraduate students to present their current research, encouraging discussion with scholars in related subjects and the construction of crucial networks with fellow researchers, this year we are looking to continue these successes. The University of Liverpool is a leading centre for the study of speculative fiction, being home to the Science Fiction Foundation Collection, and is thus an ideal venue for fostering the next generation of scholars of the fantastic.

We are seeking abstracts relating to speculative fiction, including, but not limited to, papers on the following topics:

•Alternate History •Apocalypse •Body Horror •Eco-criticism •Gaming •(Geo) Politics •Genre •Gender and Sexuality •Graphic Novels •The Grotesque •The Heroic Tradition •Liminal Fantasy •Magic •Meta-Franchises •Morality •Monstrosity •Music and SF •Non-Anglophone SF •Otherness •The Pastoral •Politics •Post-Colonialism and Empire •Proto-SF •Quests •Realism •Slipstream •Spiritualism •Steampunk •The Supernatural •Technology •TV and Film •Psychology and Consciousness •Urban Fantasy •Utopia/Dystopia •(Virtual) Spaces and Environments •Weird Fiction •World Building •Young Adult Fiction.

Please submit an abstract of 300 words for a 20 minute paper and a 100 word biography to the conference convenors by 23rd March 2012.

For further information, email the conference team or visit the website.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Welcome to the Medieval Carnival!

It's my pleasure to host this month’s edition of Carnivalesque, showcasing the best in recent blogging on ancient and medieval history.

However, I’m actually going to start with some stories from prehistory. Something really rather 'ancient', is this piece on Quigley’s Cabinet about artefacts discovered in South Africa that point to the existence of a 100,000-year-old ochre-processing workshop. The History Blog discusses human-inflicted wounds on a 13,800-year-old mastodon skeleton, which prove that 'American hunting is 800 years older than we thought'. And something quite close to my ginger heart, The Ancient Standard tells us that the gene responsible for red hair and freckles may have been found in Neanderthals living 100,000 years ago in Europe.

Stonehenge Thoughts offers a story about a new full geological map of the UK the British Geological Survey, and how this might be of use to those interested in the 'bluestone quarry' at Rhosyfelin and the mystery of the Stonehenge bluestones.

Moving into the early Middle Ages, at Medieval History Geek, Curt Emanuel reviews Nicholas Everett’s Literacy in Lombard Italy, c. 568-774 and Michelle Ziegler discusses childhood illness and mortality in early medieval Ireland, in 'The Mortality of Children, Ireland 683-685' at Heavenfield. 'Even the Bishop of Girona doesn’t always win' writes Jonathan Jarrett at A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe. And what's this? The Staffordshire Hoard blog looks for suggestions and explanations of their 'mystery object'.

A story that has captured the attention of history bloggers this month was the 945th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Again, this appears on numerous blogs and websites, including the Ordnance Survey blog, Mr Brame’s Blog, Kaye Jones and E.C. Ambrose. The Historical Novel Society asks nine authors to post on the anniversary on their own sites, and collects the posts on the HNS blog.

And another piece of medieval news this month is the research done into the discovery of the UK's first fully intact Viking burial site in Scotland, discussed on Medieval News. I'm glad I can mention this story, as the co-director of the project, Dr. Hannah Cobb, is an archaeology teaching fellow at the University of Manchester (my own institution).

Perhaps one of the most popular 'medieval' stories of the past month has been the reconstruction of the 'Black Death genome', using DNA samples taken from a fourteenth-century plague pit in East Smithfield, London. I won't list all the blogs that pick up the story, as there are many, but among them are Contagions, nature.com and MIT's technology review. For Francophone readers, the story also appears on Docbuzz.

Elsewhere, King's College London's Henry III Fine Rolls project offers a week in the life of Henry III: Sunday 16 October to Saturday 25 October 1261. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art blogs about rose hips and their significance in medieval seasonal celebrations at The Medieval Garden Enclosed. And at In the Middle, Karl Steel writes about the Canarian's Ship of Fools.

The British Museum's fabulous Treasures of Heaven Exhibition came to a close on October 9th. Over on the museum’s blog, metalworker Jamie Hall discusses medieval metalwork. The 8th October was the anniversary of the execution (or lynching?) of Cola di Rienzi (killed in Rome in 1354). ExecutedToday marks the date with Rienzi's story.

On Esmeralda’s Cumbrian History & Folklore, Diane McIlmoyle introduces us to the Cappel: Cumbria’s 'spooky black dog'. Haligweorc offers a piece by Derek Olsen on liturgical naming: 'Naming Spiritual Communities in the Sarum Rite'. And there's an introduction to medieval superstitions about revenants at Pure Medievalry.

Finally, although it's not a blog (and a little older than strictly appropriate for this Carnival), I thought this Flickr collection was worth a mention. Juliana Lees has been collecting images of pre-1200 Eastern textiles found in Western churches and cathedrals, with a particular interest in Silk Road influences.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of ancient and medieval blogging. If I've missed anything, leave a comment and let me know. Next month's Carnivalesque will be an early modern edition, hosted by Anchora.