Tuesday, 18 June 2013

CFP: Being Beyond Boundaries: Dissolving (Species) Hierarchy in Contemporary Culture

John Galsworthy Building, Penrhyn road, Kingston University, Kingston, Surrey KT1 2EE

Saturday 5th October
Kingston University, London

In her recent work on human-animal encounter, Donna Haraway asks us to consider ‘who “we” will become when species meet’. At the centre of Haraway’s question is a concern for the mutuality of species, and a desire to reconfigure those Enlightenment inheritances which dialectically position ‘animal’ as the other of ‘human’. Such interests demand a reappraisal not merely of humanist discourse, but also of related questions regarding ethics and responsibility.

This one day symposium hosted in conjunction with Cultural Histories at Kingston aims to consider how contemporary cultural texts in their broadest definition (literature, performance, creative writing, film and television) not only engage with the human-animal encounter, but also how this relationship might speak to a transformative social discourse in terms of ‘beingist’ agendas that interrogate not only humanist allegiances, but also more traditional identity politics.

Confirmed guest speaker: Professor John Mullarkey, Professor of Film and Television, Kingston University.

The organisers welcome 20 minute papers that speak to any aspect of this theme, which might include, but are not limited to:

Animal-human encounters
Animal as metaphor/anti-metaphor
Animal-human transformations
Performing the ‘animal’
The animal other in popular culture
'Beingist’ interrogations of identity politics
Revisions of humanism/ posthumanism/ transhumanism in the context of animal encounters
Speculative realism and the animal
Animal ethics/responsibility
Animals and anti-correlationist perspectives

The organisers intend to put together an edited collection based on the symposium theme. Selected presenters may be invited to submit essays based on their papers.

Please send 200 word abstracts to Sara Upstone and Heidi James-Dunbar by 15 July 2013.

Enquiries to Sara Upstone

CFP: DigiPal One-Day Symposium

Date: Monday 16th September 2013
Venue: King's College London, Strand
Co-sponsor: Centre for Late Antique & Medieval studies, KCL

It is with great delight that the DigiPal team at the Department of Digital Humanities (King's College London) announce their third Symposium.

We've built up a scholarly camaraderie over the last two years and much look forward to our annual opportunity to discuss and debate the computer-assisted study of medieval handwriting and manuscripts.

How to propose a paper

Papers of 20 minutes in length are invited on any aspect of digital approaches to the study of medieval handwriting and manuscripts.

The topics below might help guide potential submissions:

* terminology for describing handwriting
* visualisation of manuscript evidence and data
* meaning and mining in palaeography
* automatic letter-form identification
* methods for dating/localising script
* crowd-sourcing in palaeography
* the practical and theoretical consequences of the use of digital images
* examples of research that would benefit from a Digital Humanities (or DigiPal) approach

The above are only serving suggestions, so please don't feel limited to these topics.

To propose a paper, please email a brief abstract (250 words max.) to the symposium organizers.

The deadline for the receipt of submissions is 10.23pm on Wednesday 3rd July 2013

What is DigiPal?

For more information, please visit our website or dive in at the deep end.

Medieval and Early Modern Student Association Postgraduate Conference - The Mutilated Body

8-9 July 2013 at St John's College, Durham University

MEMSA is proud to announce its seventh annual postgraduate conference, an event designed to bring together postgraduate and early career researchers in interdisciplinary dialogue. This year's topic is the Mutilated Body, where delegates will explore aspects of destruction, disability, and personhood in the medieval and Early Modern periods, investigating medical humanities and hagiography, as well as interpretations of the conceptualisation of mutilated corporeality, as typified by books, the nation-state and kingship, or Christendom. Keynote speakers will be Professor Faith Wallis (McGill University) and Professor Charlotte Roberts (Durham University). Delegates will also have the option to tour the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition, following a talk by Professor Richard Gameson (Durham University).

Please click here to register online.

Liturgy in History: International Study Day

Call for Participants

We are delighted to announce a call for participants for Liturgy in History, an international study day for graduate students and early career researchers at Queen Mary’s Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.

Liturgy in History: a full-day workshop exploring liturgy in practice in the medieval and early-modern periods.
When: Tuesday 19th November, 9:30 – 17:00 (lunch provided)
Where: Queen Mary, Mile End Campus, room tbc

One of the most exciting developments in medieval, renaissance and early modern studies over the past decade has been a renewed historical appreciation of liturgical sources. Liturgies, so crucial to understanding the lived experiences of religion, were seedbeds for cultural production across Europe, and were deeply contested in the changing confessional landscapes of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Liturgy in History will provide a unique opportunity to engage with liturgical sources and access the expertise of researchers in the field.

Three speakers – Professor Nils Holger Petersen (University of Copenhagen), Professor Emma Dillon (King’s College London) and Dr. Beth Williamson (University of Bristol) – will guide participants through the structure and formulae of liturgical sources. The musical, visual, architectural and performative aspects of the liturgy will all be carefully considered and approaches to liturgy re-interrogated. The day will culminate in a trip to a nearby renaissance church which will help situate them in their context. We would be delighted to welcome international participants and students from diverse disciplines, to reflect the multidisciplinary focus of the day itself.

Participants will not only have the opportunity to learn more about the current state of liturgical research but will also be given the chance to offer their own insights into this pivotal aspect of medieval and early modern studies.

Please see below for a provisional schedule of the day.

If you would like to join us please email Hetta Howes. Attendance will be free of charge, but places are limited to ensure discussion and participation, so it is essential that you book your place.

Liturgy in History International Study Day, 19 November 2013

9:30–10:00 – Registration, tea and coffee

10:00–11:15 Professor Nils Holger Petersen (University of Copenhagen): An introduction to the structure and formulae of liturgical sources in the Christian West

11:15–11:25 – Coffee break

11:25–12:30 Professor Emma Dillon (King’s College London): Sung components of liturgy – how was liturgy was presented and experienced in medieval and early modern Europe?

12:30–13:10 – Lunch

13:10–14:25 – Dr. Beth Williamson (University of Bristol): Space and Sight in the Liturgy

14:25–14:35 – Coffee break

14:35–15:25 – Prof. Miri Rubin: Round Table discussion

15:25–17.00 – Visit to an historic church to consider liturgy within a church, how religious changes affected ritual, and to experience liturgical music from across the period

Impossible Spaces Launch Party

Friday 19 July, 7.00-9.00pm
Free entry

International Anthony Burgess Foundation
3 Cambridge Street
Manchester M1 5BY
United Kingdom

Join us at the launch of Impossible Spaces, a new collection of short stories from Hic Dragones.

Sometimes the rules can change. Sometimes things aren't how they appear. Sometimes you can just slip through the cracks and end up... somewhere else. What else is there? Is there somewhere else, right beside you, if you could only reach out and touch it? Or is it waiting to reach out and touch you?

Don't trust what you see. Don't trust what you hear. Don't trust what you remember. It isn't what you think.

A new collection of twenty-one dark, unsettling and weird short stories that explore the spaces at the edge of possibility. Stories by: Ramsey Campbell, Simon Bestwick, Hannah Kate, Jeanette Greaves, Richard Freeman, Almira Holmes, Arpa Mukhopadhyay, Chris Galvin Nguyen, Christos Callow Jr., Daisy Black, Douglas Thompson, Jessica George, Keris McDonald, Laura Brown, Maree Kimberley, Margret Helgadottir, Nancy Schumann, Rachel Yelding, Steven K. Beattie, Tej Turner and Tracy Fahey.

Free event, with wine reception from 7pm. Readings from Douglas Thompson, Rachel Yelding, Tracy Fahey, Jeanette Greaves, Nancy Schumann, Jessica George and Hannah Kate. Launch party discount on book sales and competition/giveaways.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

CFP: Stage the Future: The First International Conference on Science Fiction Theatre

Saturday April 26, 2014
School of English, University of Royal Holloway

Keynote Speakers:
Jen Gunnels (New York Review of Science Fiction)
Dr. Nick Lowe (University of Royal Holloway)

Science Fiction Theatre doesn’t officially exist. You won’t find it listed as a sub-genre of either science fiction or theatre and you won’t find it on Wikipedia (though you will find a 1950s TV series with the same title – luckily, there is a theatre entry in the SF Encyclopaedia). Apart from that, there seems to be only one book on the subject so far, called “Science Fiction and the Theatre” and that was more than twenty years ago.

And yet Theatre itself was born out of the Fantastic. It began as a religious ceremony filled with metaphysical concepts and mythological beings, and it went on with fairy tales (especially as children’s theatre) and fantasy (see A Midnight Summer’s Dream, Faust, and many more), never denouncing its mystical roots. Even when it seemed to convert to Realism, it gave birth to the Absurd. Still one cannot help but notice that, though its performance has undergone major changes in the digital era, thematically theatre seems hesitant to take the next big step and follow cinema and literature to the science-fictional future.

This is strange because there have been many science fiction plays, some of them quite important in the history of theatre. Consider Beckett’s Endgame and its post-apocalyptic setting. Consider Karel Čapek who actually coined the term “Robot” in his science-fiction play “R.U.R.”, recently added to Gollancz’s “SF Masterworks” series. Consider even Rocky Horror Show and the Little Shop of Horrors.

But in the end, even if there was none of the above, even if there had been no robots, aliens or demigods in theatre so far, now would be the time for them to dominate the stage. In the age where real robots are sent to Mars, in the age of Star Wars, Avatar and the Matrix (and so many superhero films every year), theatre cannot stay behind.

This conference is the first of its kind and hopes to raise awareness of the need for a new theatre that is already here; a theatre that has its roots in the past and its eyes on the future.

This event aims to bring together scholars, critics, writers and performers for the first international academic conference on Science Fiction Theatre. Papers are welcome on any topic related to speculative theatre. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

-Depictions of future times
-Utopia and Dystopia
-Proto-science-fiction in theatre
-Ancient Speculative Theatre (Prophets, Monsters, Gods)
-Theatrical adaptations of science fiction novels and films
-Science and Theatre
-Science and the Human
-Performing the Non-Human and the Post-Human
-Temporality, SF and Theatre
-Dramaturgical Analysis of the Unknown
-Space Opera and Science Fiction Opera
-Theatre and the Weird
-Other fantastical theatres (Horror, Fantasy, Supernatural)

The conference welcomes proposals for individual papers and panels from any discipline and theoretical perspective. Please send a title and a 300 word abstract for a 20 minute paper along with your name, affiliation and 100 word professional biography to the conference convenors by 28 February 2014.

The conference is organised by Christos Callow, PhD candidate, Department of English, University of Lincoln and Susan Gray, PhD candidate, Department of English, University of Royal Holloway.

Toby Stone at North City Library

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

CFP: Caietele Echinox/Echinox Journal - Fantasy and Science Fiction

Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Caietele Echinox
Volume 26 (2014)

Caietele Echinox/Echinox Journal is a biannual academic journal in comparative literature, dedicated to the study of the social, historical, cultural, religious, literary and arts imaginaries. It is edited by Phantasma, the Center for Imagination Studies of the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania. It is accredited by ERIH (European Research Index for the Humanities – NAT) and CNCS (The Romanian Nacional Council for Scientific Research) and indexed in EBSCO Publishing, CEEOL (Central and Eastern European Online Library), MLA International Bibliography and FABULA.

The possibility to build other worlds, different from those we live in, is emphasised in two important streams of modern literature: fantasy and science-fiction. Fantasy literature became famous in the second half of the 20th century. Developing the theoretical hallmark set by J. R. R. Tolkien in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” (1947), researchers like C. N. Manlove, W. R. Irwin, Eric S. Rabkin, Roger C. Schlobin, Brian Attebery, Rosemary Jackson, Kathryn Hume, and more recently Lucie Armitt and Farah Mendlesohn tried to define this type of literature, by establishing its historical and cultural roots, and disclosing fictional/ rhetorical/ imaginary mechanisms that enable the construction of “secondary worlds” (in Tolkien’s own words). There are still questions that need answers and any theoretical contribution and attempt to clarify concepts in this field are welcome. How do space and time function in fantasy fiction? Which methods and concepts work best to interpret this type of fiction? How far can we go to establish its roots? How did the narrative structure of fictions about possible and impossible worlds change throughout time? What kind of relationship can emerge between fantasy literature, the digital environment that creates alternative worlds, and the filmic portrayal of well-known stories such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Neverending Story, Harry Potter, and so on? What relevance does fantasy literature have for the modern and postmodern individual?

In what concerns the science-fiction literature, the call envisages papers focusing both on different subgenres of SF and on the borderline works between SF and other genres. The first category includes articles that discuss and analyse works by the so called ‘Hard SF’ authors (such as, but not limited to, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, David Brin, Gregory Benford, Hal Clement or Stephen Baxter), ‘soft’ and social SF that revolve around themes connected to economics, social sciences, political science, psychology and anthropology (Arthur C. Clarke, The Strugatsky Brothers, Stanislaw Lem, Janusz Zajdel), utopian / dystopian fiction (developed by or related to George Orwell, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Doris Lessing, Aldous Huxley or Karel Capek), Cyberpunk, Biopunk, Steampunk and Dieselpunk fiction (William Gibson, Steve Stiles, Bruce Sterling, Neil Stephenson, Pat Cadigan, and others), feminist SF (Ursula Le Guin or Margaret Atwood), time travel narratives similar to those written by H.G Wells, military SF (John Ringo, David Drake, David Weber or S.M Stirling), uchronias and alternate history novels (Ward Moore, Philip K. Dick or Murray Leinster), superhuman or apocalyptic Science-Fiction (Olaf Stapledon, A.E van Vogt, George R. Steward or Ridley Walker) or Space Opera (L. Ron Hubbard, Edward E. Smith or Joss Wheedon). Bordeline SF includes horror stories by authors that have incorporated in their narratives science fictional elements (such as Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley or Edgar Allan Poe), works that combine SF with fantasy elements (Ann McAffrey), or with mystery (Kurt Vonnegut and others).

Deadline: January 1, 2014
Please follow Echinox Style Sheet

Send your papers to Corin Braga

Friday, 24 May 2013

Win SIGNED copies of three amazing novels

Following on from their Twisted Tales of Cannibalism event in April, Hic Dragones has SIGNED copies of three fantastic novels to give away. Enter via Rafflecopter at the end of this post (international entry welcome).

Blonde on a Stick, by Conrad Williams
An extraordinary killer, the Four-Year-Old, has arrived in London, and is hell-bent on destruction. No sooner has PI Joel Sorrell been approached by the mysterious Kara Geenan, who is desperate to find her missing brother, than an attempt is made on his life. When Kara vanishes too, it becomes clear that this is no routine job. Something is casting a long, long shadow over the case, and Joel must travel north, to a past he was desperate to forget, in order to find out the truth. As those close to Joel are sucked into his nightmare, he knows he must track down the killer fast if he is to halt a grisly master plan - even if it means sacrificing his own life.

The Cannibal Spirit, by Harry Whitehead
George Hunt has a white father and a native mother. A shaman and chieftain among his people, the Kwagiulth, helplessly he has watched them die-from disease, warfare, alcohol, despair-as their world is besieged by the arrival of the twentieth century and the encroachments of the young country called Canada. Yet he is also an assistant to the famed anthropologist Franz Boas, and a collector of native artefacts for the white man's museums. He inhabits both worlds, looking in and looking out, at peace in neither. A bear of a man, he is imposing in body and intellect, yet prone to fits of wild rage. When his son dies of tuberculosis, and he insists on performing the funeral rites of his mother's people, George provokes the fury of the missionaries and the Indian Agents, and sets in motion a chain of events that forces him to defend what is most important to him; not only with blade and rifle in the remote fastness of the northern British Colombia coast, but also with his wits and precarious dignity in a Vancouver courtroom. Masterful, unforgettable, and utterly gripping, The Cannibal Spirit broods with nostalgia for a passing world and pounds with relentless tension. Based on the life of the real historical figure George Hunt, this astonishing evocation of the fog-wrapped forests of the northwest coast, and the heedless bustle of the arrival of modernity in the midst of an older, beleaguered way of life, tells the story of the grappling of two civilizations in the life of one man.

Habit, by Stephen McGeagh
Manchester, the present. Michael divides his time between the job centre and the pub. A chance meeting with Lee, an introduction to her ‘Uncle’ Ian, and a heavy night on the lash lead to a job working the door at a Northern Quarter massage parlour. After witnessing the violent death of one of the ‘punts’, Michael experiences blood-drenched flashbacks and feels himself being sucked into a twilight world that he doesn’t understand but that is irresistibly attractive. When he eventually finds out what goes on in the room below 7th Heaven, Michael’s life will never be the same again. Think Bret Easton Ellis. On a writing break in the north of England. And all he packed was Fight Club and some early Stephen King novels. Stephen McGeagh’s powerful debut will stay with you for a long time.

Enter the giveaway now...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Interview with Rosie Garland

Today's post is an interview with novelist, poet, singer and performer, Rosie Garland. Rosie has enjoyed an eclectic career, ranging from singing in post-punk gothic band The March Violets, through touring with the Subversive Stitch exhibition in the 90s to her alter-ego Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, cabaret chanteuse and mistress of ceremonies. She has published five solo collections of poetry and her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have appeared in a number of anthologies and collections. She is winner of the DaDa Award for Performance Artist of the Year and a Poetry Award from the People's Café, New York. She also won the Mslexia Novel competition in 2012 and her debut novel The Palace of Curiosities was released in March 2013 by HarperCollins.

I first met Rosie when we were both involved with Commonword, in Manchester, and our work was included in the
Transparency poetry anthology. We also worked together on the Hic Dragones Wolf-Girls anthology, which included Rosie's short story 'Cut and Paste'. Recently, Rosie wrote a guest post for a short blog series on women and body hair that I hosted on this site.

Today though, I want to find out more about Rosie's award-winning debut novel,
The Palace of Curiosities.

She-Wolf: Hi Rosie - welcome back to the She-Wolf blog. Shall we start with a brief introduction? Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself?

Rosie Garland: I'll try to keep this brief! As it says on my book blurb, I have always been a cuckoo in the nest. I've been writing and performing for as long as I can remember – I've recently found a stash of miniature books I wrote for my dolls, and an early performance memory is playing an Elf Queen in school at the age of five. I sing as well – whether that's in post-punk gothic band The March Violets or alternative cabaret character Rosie Lugosi. I've published five solo collections of poetry and my award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologized.

SW: Life sounds pretty exciting, then!

RG: Life has been particularly exciting since I won the inaugural Mslexia Novel Competition in 2012. As a result, my debut novel The Palace of Curiosities was published in March 2013 by HarperCollins. And in 2010 I was given the all-clear from throat cancer. So all in all I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

SW: Let's talk about The Palace of Curiosities, what's the book about?

RG: The Palace of Curiosities is set in early Victorian London. It is about what it’s like to live on the boundaries of what is perceived as human, the struggle to remember and hang onto who and what we are, and just how important that is. It is told through the eyes of Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and is interwoven with the story of Abel, who is also an outsider – just not in such an obvious way. But both of them are freaks of nature, and both are searching for escape. The novel explores life on the fringes of society, what it means to be different, and traces their struggle for self-discovery on the boundaries of what is perceived as human.

SW: Where did the idea come from? Were there any particular sources of inspiration?

RG: I was inspired by the life and struggles of Julia Pastrana, a nineteenth century Mexican woman completely covered with thick hair. However, The Palace of Curiosities isn't a re-telling of her story. I wanted to create new characters, and the result was Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and Abel, the mysterious Flayed Man. It's set in an early Victorian sideshow, but unlike a number of other circus novels (like Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus and Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus) I wanted the 'freaks' to speak for themselves. They tell their own story – it felt very important that they spoke in first person rather than having someone else speak for them.

SW: Did you do much historical research?

RG: The question of research is one that could be discussed for hours, and each writer would have a different approach! It's true that I am fascinated by history, and read a lot of non-fiction for pleasure. However, I am very careful not to fall into the trap of letting research dominate. That way I'd not get any writing done...

SW: Between The Palace of Curiosities, your story in Wolf-Girls and your guest post on this blog, I'm noticing a bit of a theme... what is it that fascinates you about hairy girls?

RG: Women's relationship with their hair is particularly fraught – we mustn't have too much, and we sure as hell shouldn't have too little. I discovered this when I was diagnosed with throat cancer whilst working on the first draft of the novel. I lost all of my hair, and lived the reality of female baldness, which I discovered was just as laden with judgments about what is acceptable and what is 'freakish'.

SW: Did that have an impact on the creation of your protagonist, Eve?

RG: This informed and influenced the creation of Eve. I took the concept of female hairiness to its logical extreme. Eve has hypertrichosis, a condition where the entire body is covered in a thick mat of hair. Her 'difference' is overwhelmingly visible, yet she is determined to get by on her own terms. She does not shave herself to pass for human. She fends off exploitation, discovers fulfilment, self-expression and self-reliance. I've been told that Eve's hairiness can be seen as an interesting analogy for being queer in a heteronormative world. I'm happy if she makes one person think about what it means to be female and have body hair.

SW: The Palace of Curiosities is certainly making its mark - top of the Waterstone's hardback fiction chart and nominated for the 2013 Desmond Elliott prize in its first couple of months - but could you tell me a bit about the book's 'birth'? How did it get from idea to the top of Waterstone’s charts? Was it an easy journey?

RG: How long have you got? I'll give the short version of what has been a very long journey. I'd been with an agency for twelve years, and had given them four novels. But however hard I tried (and did I try), however hard I worked on editorial suggestions, nothing seemed good enough. Twelve years of can-you-make-it-more? can-you-make-it-less? No one could accuse me of not trying.

SW: That sounds pretty dispiriting - you must've felt like giving up at times.

RG: I had pretty much given up on the idea of writing fiction. My agent had stopped replying to my emails and my confidence was shot. I realized that if I was going to get anywhere it would be under my own steam. So I entered the Mslexia Novel Competition. And won it. That was the turning point. It boosted my confidence as a writer more than I can describe. It's taken twelve years to get to this point – a bumpy and at times demoralizing ride, with a lot of rejections.

SW: But an amazing result, after all that?

RG: This news is, quite simply, breathtaking. I'm still pinching myself to check it isn't a dream.

SW: You're known for many things (music, poetry, performance, short stories, essays... the list really does go on...), what made you decide to make the move to novelist?

RG: It wasn't something I consciously sat down and decided to do. When I'm asked 'how long have you been writing?' the answer is 'always'. I wrote my first novel when I was aged nine. It was a thrilling adventure involving super-heroines battling sharks and other dangers. With pictures.

SW: Do you find novel-writing different to other forms of writing?

RG: It's very different to writing poetry. An easy answer would be to compare a novel to a marathon and a poem to a 100 metre sprint – but that's not quite it. Sure, a novel takes far longer to write (unless you are a very slow poem writer indeed). The only way I can describe it is that it feels like I use different parts of my brain when writing poetry and fiction.

SW: I'm interested to know what sort of things you like to read. You mentioned reading non-fiction for pleasure, but do you have any favourite fiction writers?

RG: I'm an avid reader of non-fiction, especially the history of medicine. But I have very eclectic tastes – maybe it's easiest if I say what is currently on my bedside table: Tove Jansson's Tales from Moominvalley, a History of Ossuaries, Sarah Hymas's poetry collection Host, Ivor Brown's Chosen Words, Aesop’s Fables, and The Friday Gospels by Jenn Ashworth.

SW: Quite the eclectic collection! So... what's next from Rosie Garland? Can we look forward to another novel?

RG: Most definitely! I don't just have any old novel deal with HarperCollins, it's a two-book deal. I am currently very busy on the second. Don't want to say too much about its themes yet, but it will involve people who don't fit. As I've said elsewhere, I'm interested in characters who won't (or can't) squeeze into the one-size-fits-all templates they have been provided, and the friction that occurs when they try.

SW: Cool - I'll look forward to finding out more in due course. Thanks for talking to me today, Rosie. Before you go, I'd be mad not to ask one final question (even if it is a bit of cliché... do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

RG: Don’t give up. If you are determined to be a novelist – do it. Practise your craft. Find ways to nourish and support yourself. Don’t just accept feedback - seek it out and use it. In addition – when faced with a decision, I have this question I ask myself. How long will I be dead? It helps get me off my arse. Cancer sure put things in startlingly clear perspective. There's nothing like getting a glimpse of your sell-by date to provide a boot up the backside. Don't put it off. Write that poem, that novel, that opera, that play. Do it now.

The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland is published by HarperCollins and available now from all good bookshops.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Contributors Wanted for Two Academic Collections

So, some of you may have seen Twitter. Two contributors have recently withdrawn from a collection I'm putting together, and I thought I'd put out a more general request to make contact with interested writers. I would appreciate it if people could pass this information on to colleagues who might be interested/available to contribute to the collections.

A couple of things to mention: these are academic collections, and I am looking to hear from people whose research interests mesh with the collections' focus. The collections are at the proposal stage, and will be pitched to an established UK academic publisher once the contents are finalized (details to follow). The majority of the collections' contents are already finalized, so it may be that I already have a chapter on your proposed subject. If you have any questions, it's best just to get in touch with me.

Afterlife of Alice edited collection

A collection of essays exploring interpretations and adaptations of Lewis Carroll's Alice novels. This collection is inspired by the Hic Dragones Afterlife of Alice conference, which ran in December 2011. 

What I'm looking for: essays on adaptations, interpretations or the use of elements from Carroll's novels in 'popular' or 'high' culture. For instance, John Logan's Peter and Alice, psychedelic Alices, Alice merchandise and collectibles, Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland, fan fic, non-Anglophone Alices (except Japanese).
What I'm not looking for: essays on Carroll's novels or translations, essays on adaptation theory (though more than happy for essays to use this as a framework), essays on Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell, essays on Gothic subcultures and fashions, essays on Disney.
Timescale: I'll need an abstract of 300-500 words ASAP, and then deadline for full chapter (7000 words) can be negotiated.

Afterlife of Dorothy edited collection

A collection of essays exploring interpretations and adaptations of L. Frank Baum's Oz novels. This collection is inspired by the Hic Dragones Afterlife of Dorothy conference, which ran in February 2013.

What I'm looking for: essays on adaptations, interpretations, revisions or the use of elements from Baum's novels in 'popular' or 'high' culture. For instance, The Wiz (I would really like a chapter on this!) , fan fic, graphic novels, non-Anglophone Dorothys.
What I'm not looking for: essays on Baum's novels, essays on the MGM film adaptation, essays on Gregory Maguire's Wicked novels and the musical adaptation, essays on Return to Oz or Oz: The Great and Powerful.
Timescale: I'll need an abstract of 300-500 words ASAP, and then deadline for full chapter (7000 words) can be negotiated.

If you're interested in contributing to either collection, please email me (Hannah Priest) in the first instance. Just introduce yourself, give me an idea of your research background/interests and let me know what your proposed chapter would focus on. We can take it from there.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hic Dragones presents... A Night of Strange and Dark Fictions

as part of Prestwich Book Festival

Monday 27th May, 7.30pm
Prestwich British Legion (near Heaton Park tram station)
225 Bury Old Road
Prestwich M25 1JE

Tickets £6 (+ booking fee) in advance from the festival’s Eventbrite shop

Come and listen to some of the finest and strangest authors writing in the UK today. What do they have in common? They’ve all been published – at one stage or another – by North Manchester’s strangest publishing house, Hic Dragones. And they’re together in Prestwich for one night only.

Rosie Garland:
Manchester-based Rosie Garland has published five solo collections of poetry and her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologized. She is an eclectic writer and performer, ranging from singing in Goth band The March Violets to her well-loved stage persona Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen. The Palace of Curiosities (HarperCollins) is her debut novel.

Toby Stone:
Toby Stone is a Whitefield-based novelist who also teaches in North Manchester. Toby went to the same school as Batman (Christian Bale) and Benny Hill. As an adult, Toby has been a toy-seller, an Avon lady, double-glazing Salesman of the Week, a mortgage broker, a suspicious barman, a school governor and a bingo caller. Aimee and the Bear (Hic Dragones) is his first novel.

Also featuring readings from Hic Dragones anthology writers:

Simon Bestwick: acclaimed author of ‘modern masterpiece of horror’ The Faceless (Solaris)
Richard Freeman: writer and cryptozoologist
Jeanette Greaves: contributor to Wolf-Girls and Impossible Spaces
Nancy Schumann: author of Take a Bite, a history of female vampires in folklore and literature
Beth Daley: graduate of the Creative Writing PhD programme at the University of Manchester
Daisy Black: writer, medievalist and heavy metal morris dancer

Your host for the evening will be Hannah Kate, ringmaster at the strange little circus that is Hic Dragones.

Plus… prizes to be won, a bookstall and a stall from Rock and Goth Plus

powered by

Monday, 22 April 2013

Call for Submissions: Hauntings: An Anthology

Short Story Submissions Wanted

A memory, a spectre, a feeling of regret, a sense of déjà vu, ghosts, machines, something you can’t quite put your finger on, a dark double, the long shadow of illness, your past, a nation’s past, your doppelgänger, a place, a song, a half-remembered rhyme, guilt, trauma, doubt, a shape at the corner of your eye, the future, the dead, the undead, the living, a grey cat, a black dog, a ticking clock, someone you used to know, someone you used to be.

We are all haunted.

Submissions wanted for a new anthology of short stories based around the theme of haunting.

What we want: Edgy, dark and weird fiction. Any interpretation of the theme is welcome – and we have no preconceptions about what ‘haunting’ might mean. Any genre considered: dark fantasy, urban fantasy, Gothic, horror, sci fi, steampunk, cyberpunk, biopunk, dystopian, slipstream. We’re looking for original and fresh voices that challenge and unsettle. (And, please remember, we do not publish misogyny, misandry, homophobia, transphobia or racism.)

Editor: Hannah Kate
Publisher: Hic Dragones

Word Count: 3000-7000
Submission Guidelines: Electronic submissions as .doc, .docx or .rtf attachments only. 12pt font, 1.5 or double spaced. Please ensure name, story title and email address are included on the attachment. Email submissions to Hic Dragones. Submissions are welcome from anywhere, but must be in English.

Submission Deadline: Thursday 31st October 2013

Payment: Contributor copy: 1 copy of paperback, eBook in ePub and/or mobi format; permanent 25% discount on paperback (resale permitted); 1 free eBook from our catalogue

For more information, see the publishers' website or email Hic Dragones

Important Information:
This is a non-paying market. Hic Dragones is currently a micro-press with plans to become a small press, and we acknowledge that this is not the market for everyone. We feel that what we offer – professional and thorough developmental editing and copy-editing, support and exposure (from IRL and virtual platforms) – will benefit emerging writers; however, we welcome submissions from more established writers (see previous anthologies). We value transparency and communication, so if you would like to know more about our business model, our background or our plans for the future, please email Hic Dragones or chat to us on Twitter or Facebook.

CFP: Anchorites in their Communities

The 5th International Anchoritic Society conference, in association with the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research (MEMO), Swansea University
April 22-24, 2014
Greygnog Hall, Newtown, Powys, Wales

Keynote Speakers:

Diane Watt (Surrey)
Tom Licence (UEA)
Eddie Jones (Exeter)

Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Manuscript workshop:

Eddie Jones (Exeter)
Bella Millett (Southampton)

Much of the work undertaken in the field of medieval anchoritism, particularly within an English context, has concentrated on the vocation’s role within the history of Christian spirituality, its function as a locus of (gendered) sacred space and its extensive ideological cultural work. Indeed, in the hundred years since Rotha Mary Clay’s foundational 1914 study of English anchoritism, The Hermits and Anchorites of England (1914), only sporadic attention has been given to the English anchorite as part of a community – whether social, intellectual, spiritual or religious – and as part of a widespread ‘virtual’ community of other anchorites and religious or ‘semi-religious’ figures spread across England and beyond.

In its focus on anchorites within their multifarious communities, this conference seeks papers attempting to unpick the paradox of the ‘communal anchorite’ and the central role often played by her/him within local and (inter)national political contexts, and within the arenas of church ideology, critique and reform. It also seeks contributions for a Roundtable discussion on any aspect of Mary Rotha Clay’s work, its lasting legacies and the debt to her scholarship owed by new generations of scholars in the twenty-first century.

Offers of 20-minute papers are sought on any aspect of medieval anchorites in their communities including (but not restricted to):

Spiritual circles
Communities of discourse
Anchoritic/lay interaction
Anchorites and church reform
Networks of patronage
Networks of anchorites
Anchorite case studies
Anchoritic friendship groups
Book ownership/ borrowing/ lending/ circulation
Communities of texts: ‘anchoritic’ miscellanies/ textual travelling companions
Textual translation, circulation and mouvance
Non-insular influence
Gendered communities

Abstracts of up to 500 words should be sent to Dr Liz Herbert McAvoy by Friday, August 30th 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Guest Bloggers Wanted (but only if you exist)

So... this is a blog post about blogging. How very postmodern.

I started this blog in 2010, and it was originally intended to be a website for a conference I was organizing (She-Wolf: Female Werewolves, Shapeshifters and Other Horrors). I soon decided that I could use it for more than just promoting the conference, and started to include various bits and bobs about female werewolves, then some book reviews, then some other CFPs. After the conference finished, it made sense to keep the blog going, and it slowly became my own personal site. The focus is still (kinda) on female werewolves, but it's now more just a repository for stuff in my brain or my inbox that I think other people might be vaguely interested in.

After about a year, I got my first 'guest blog' request. If you run a blog, you might be familiar with these. A 'journalist' or 'freelance writer' sends you an unsolicited email offering to write a blog piece for you. They give you links to previous work they've done and tell you that there will be no fee for their services. They might give you an outline of the sort of thing they'd like to write for you. Sometimes they'll say something kind about your site, or about how interesting they find your posts.

In my experience, these requests range from the almost-genuine to the sublimely ridiculous. I had one from a 'writer' who wanted to write something on education - that sorta fits with some of my posts. But the most recent wanted to write about a driving school in Manchester, because he thought it would be of 'interest to my readers'. Of course, this post (like all the others) would just have to contain one small link to another site.

In case you don't know - and as you'll see in a minute, a lot of bloggers really don't know this - these requests aren't really from freelance writers and journalists. Well, they might be in a way, but they're always a little bit economical with the truth. They are from SEO or advertising companies. The purpose of the guest post is to get that all-important 'organic backlink' without invoking the wrath of Google's mighty penguin.

© Thethirdman | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Stock Free Images

Here's how it works:

If you run a business and want your website to move up search engine rankings, you can pay for a 'Guest Blogging Service'. These are companies that will target bloggers on your behalf (usually using one or another form of analytics to target blogs with high rankings, appropriate content, etc.) The Blogging Service will then contact the blogger and offer to write a guest post containing a link to your site. I'm (obviously) not going to link to any of these sites, but do a search for buy guest blog posts and you can see how it works in practice. It is solely for the purpose of moving the client's website up Google's page rankings, and is not intended to be active engagement with either the blog's content or its readers.

Is it deceptive?

Not always. In some cases, the Guest Blogging Service is up-front about what it is doing. Some do employ genuine freelance writers to write content tailored to a specific blog. These people won't necessarily be specialists in a particular field, but they will go to some effort to research and present a decent piece of writing. Decent SEO companies say that best practice is to avoid creating fake personas, and to research a blog thoroughly before contacting. They also advise being honest with bloggers about the SEO/advertising purpose of the guest post.

However, only a couple of companies operate like this. Most just churn out and regurgitate content that vaguely fits with the theme of the blog. It may be copied and pasted from other websites (I've seen one that just took chunks of Wikipedia and repackaged them as a post). The same post (or very similar) may be offered to multiple blogs. At best, this content is vapid and insubstantial. At worst, it is plagiarized and could lead to copyright issues. The 'writer' of the piece will be a fake persona created by the company.

Introducing Nancy - one of the most prolific writers who doesn't exist

I recently got an email from 'Nancy Parker', a 'freelance writer and journalist' who wanted to write a guest post for my site. I'd had a few emails along these lines that week, so I was a bit annoyed. I decided to see what I could find out about 'Nancy'.

Just Google Nancy Parker Guest Post, and you can see what I did. Wow. That 'writer' sure gets around! I found posts on numerous sites about better blogging, how to promote your business and SEO, but also posts on chronic back pain, talking therapy for surviving 'difficult times', childcare, finding a good nanny, cooking cheap meals for the family... I have just found one of 'her' posts entitled 'Gather Evidence to Prosecute Cyber-Criminals with Tech Forensics'. What got me more irritated was the number of posts I found on book and writer blogs - from this so-called 'writer' - about how to write good secondary character, how to self-publish, how music can inspire writing. While the SEO blogs must (surely) have known what 'Nancy Parker' really is, the indie writers who invited 'her' to their site didn't. Some seemed flattered to have been asked.

None of 'Nancy's' posts contain any links (how clever!), but each one comes with an identical biography for her:
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about a write about a wide range of subjects like health, parenting, childcare, babysitting, nannying. You can reach her at [webmail address].
Somewhere in that bio, either as a hyperlink or just written out in full, will be a link to a company called eNannySource. (This is the company that paid for the creation of 'Nancy Parker'.)

A lot of Nancy's posts come with a very fetching profile picture of the writer.

© Richard Cleveland apparently 
(though 'Nancy Parker' doesn't acknowledge this)

Nancy Parker is not a real writer - she's not even a real person

How do I know this? Well, for starters Nancy Parker has no presence on the internet outside of her guest blog posts. That's pretty rubbish for a freelance journalist and writer! She has no personal blog, and no social media accounts. Secondly, that profile picture does not look like a typical writer's headshot. It looks a little bit more posed and professional to me. One quick reverse image search reveals that it is, in fact, ripped off from this MySpace page for a freelance photographer.

Are bought guest blog posts a problem?

In my humble opinion, yes and no. They're a form of internet advertising, which is no bad thing in itself. Some bloggers are happy to include them, as they offer fresh content on the site and (if they're done well) talking-points for readers to engage with. Occasionally, guest blog posts are researched and well-written, though they are more likely to be generic. You can also take it as a compliment and a sign of your page ranking that the Guest Blogging Service viewed your blog as a good place to advertise.

However, they can also be deceptive. Bloggers are not always informed that the guest post they are publishing is, in fact, just a piece of advertising. And bloggers are not paid for offering this advertising space either. This leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable. The Nancy Parker childcare and nannying posts get under my skin a little too, as parenting advice from a non-existent person seems rather dubious. I'd also advise any bloggers to thoroughly check the content of a guest blog post before publishing to ensure that it doesn't include any plagiarized or copy-and-pasted material.

To be honest, I like to think of Guest Blogging Services as the bill posters of the internet. They aren't doing any harm, per se; they're just provided a service to companies who want to boost their search engine ratings. But the tactics they use to advertise their clients are irritating to those of us who own the metaphorical walls they want to slap their posters over.

© Arrow | Dreamstime Stock Photos 
Stock Free Images
PS I do, on occasion, feature guest blog posts. If you are a real person and would like to write something for the site, please feel free to get in touch.

CFP: Literary Dolls: The Female Textual Body from the 19th Century to Now

8 March 2014
University of Durham

This one-day conference held on International Women’s Day 2014 assesses the ways in which women’s physical form has been depicted in artworks from the nineteenth century to the present day.
“Lucky I have nice hands if nothing else,” says Ella at last, very dry. He comes to her, picks up her hands, kisses them, wearily, rake-like: “Beautiful doll, beautiful.” Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Through history women’s bodies have been the subject of artistic presentation, ostensibly to celebrate the beauty of the female form, but also to fetishize, to dismember and to control women both within the arts and in the wider world. This interdisciplinary conference seeks to appraise the depiction of women’s physical form in artworks, as well as how artistic presentation has informed other disciplines, from the Nineteenth Century to Now, in order to assess how far the arts have changed in line with apparent developments in the treatment of women, over the comparable historical gulf. We are also keen to consider the social impact the arts have had, and continue to have, on the treatment of women.

Keynote speakers at the conference will include Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jane Smiley; Professor Jo Phoenix (University of Durham); Dr Kate MacDonald (University of Ghent).

We welcome abstracts of three hundred words for twenty minute papers discussing any textual presentation of women’s bodies. This includes literary depictions, but also those in film, television, digital media, the visual arts and the applied social sciences. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

The romanticised female form
Femininity vs. Femaleness vs. Womanliness
The historicized figure
The broken form
Fetishized body parts
Females made inanimate, e.g. as dolls or statues
Media representations of femaleness
The social impact of textual bodily representation
The sexual figure
The body in motion
Woman as goddess or muse
The maternal female
Females ensnared in the text
Violence on the body
Queering the body
Females made inanimate, e.g. as dolls or statues
Media representations of femaleness
The social impact of textual bodily representation

The conference will run at Durham University on 8th March 2014, International Women’s Day. It is organised in association with the University of Durham’s Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities.

Please send abstracts to the conference convenors by 1st June 2013.

For more information, please see the conference website.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Win a SIGNED copy of Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny

Another book giveaway courtesy of Hic Dragones. This time the prize is a FREE copy of Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny, signed by a selection of the authors.

Feral, vicious, fierce and lost… the she-wolf is a strange creature of the night. Attractive to some; repulsive to others, she stalks the fringes of our world as though it were her prey. She is the baddest of girls, the fatalest of femmes – but she is also the excluded, the abject, the monster.

The Wolf-Girls within these pages are mad, bad and dangerous to know. But they are also rejected and tortured, loving and loyal, avenging and triumphant. Some of them are even human…

Seventeen new tales of dark, snarling lycogyny by Nu Yang, Mary Borsellino, Lyn Lockwood, Mihaela Nicolescu, L. Lark, Jeanette Greaves, Kim Bannerman, Lynsey May, Hannah Kate, J. K. Coi, Rosie Garland, R. A. Martens, Beth Daley, Marie Cruz, Helen Cross, Andrew Quinton and Sarah Peacock.

To enter:

All you have to do to enter the competition is GUESS THE NAME OF THE WEREWOLF!

Give our little lycanthrope a name!

Enter your name suggestion in the Rafflecopter box below, and one lucky person will win a signed copy of the book and a little lycanthropic bonus. International entry permitted, and the prize will be shipped direct to wherever you live. The competition ends on April 29th, and we'll announce the winning entry shortly after that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 29 March 2013

Hic Dragones presents... Twisted Tales of Cannibalism

International Anthony Burgess Foundation
3 Cambridge Street
Manchester M1 5BY
United Kingdom
Wednesday 24th April 2013, 6.30-8.30pm
Free event, booking required

A night of dark horror fiction with Conrad Williams (Blonde on a Stick, One, The Unblemished), Stephen McGeagh (Habit) and Harry Whitehead (The Cannibal Spirit), presented by Hic Dragones and Twisted Tales.

Cannibalism disrupts our relatively stable position at the top of the food chain. From Jeffrey Dahmer to Hannibal Lecter, cannibals are the subject of popular fascination in both fiction and crime reports. However, they have a much longer heritage and their monstrous appetites can make them seem something both greater and lesser than human. Join Twisted Tales and Hic Dragones for an evening of readings by authors known for their cannibal fiction, before engaging in discussion about this primal taboo.

Hic Dragones is a small press publisher and events organizer based in North Manchester. This event is a tie-in with the Cannibals: Cannibalism, Consumption and Culture conference running on 25-26th April 2013. For more information about this conference, please visit the website.

Twisted Tales is an award-nominated series of horror readings based in the North West, with the aim of promoting the best of 21st century horror through engaging the public in a series of dynamic literary events. Now entering into its third year, Twisted Tales has worked with a range of top authors, including China Miéville, Sarah Pinborough, Ramsey Campbell, Jeremy Dyson, Adam Nevill, Stuart MacBride, Graham Joyce, Alison Littlewood and many more. For further information, please visit the Twisted Tales website.

Birkbeck Medieval Seminar: Landscape and Belief

Saturday 27 April, 2013
Rooms G15 and G16, Main Building, Birkbeck
Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX

Birkbeck Medieval Seminar 2013

John Blair (Queen’s College, University of Oxford)
Catherine Clarke (University of Southampton)
Stefan Brink (University of Aberdeen)
Alfred Hiatt (Queen Mary, University of London)

This event is free, and all are welcome to attend.
To reserve a place, email the organizers.
To learn more, visit the website.

CFP: Romance in Medieval Britain

14th Biennial Conference
12-14th April 2014
Clifton Hill House, Bristol

Papers are invited on all aspects of medieval romance. The conference marks the conclusion of an AHRC-sponsored research project on the Verse Forms of Middle English Romance, and papers that address questions of verse form are particularly welcome.

To propose a paper, please send a brief abstract to one of the two conference organizers, before 31 September 2013:
Dr Judith Jefferson, English Department
Prof. Ad Putter, English Department

Further information about the conference will be made available on the website.