Cities and the Supernatural Imagination
Hosted by Dr Karl Bell
While our cities often represent an expression of modernity, the supernatural has frequently been presented as a lingering remnant of 'traditional', unmodern mentalities. This talk outlines the research and approaches that underpin Dr Bell's recently published edited collection, Supernatural Cities: Enchantment, Anxiety and Spectrality (Boydell, 2019). It examines how engagement with supernatural beliefs and folkloric stories have enabled urban dwellers to navigate and understand their cities, both their haunted pasts and anxiety-ridden present.
Ranging from nineteenth-century Paris to twenty-first century Beijing, this study considers magical empowerment, Gothic fears, and the links between spectrality, memory and trauma. Arising from interdisciplinary research conducted within the University of Portsmouth's Supernatural Cities project (supernaturalcities.co.uk) and its work with international collaborators, this talk offers fresh insights into the relationship between the built environment, the cultural and collective imagination, and the construction of urban communal citizenship.