Supernatural Cities: Narrated Geographies and Spectral Histories
Supernatural Cities is an interdisciplinary network of humanities, social science and arts scholars of urban environments and the supernatural. We aim to encourage conversation between historians, cultural geographers, folklorists, social psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and literary scholars as they explore the representation of urban heterotopias, otherness, haunting, estranging, the uncanny, enchantment, affective geographies, communal memory and the urban fantastical. We will share calls for papers, work on collaborative funding bids, and promote relevant research. To facilitate this conversation, we host or co-host an annual conference and are developing an edited book on supernatural cities around the world.
Narrated geographies and spectral histories tend to survive as collective, communal constructions. With that in mind, this project also seeks to reach beyond academia to engage with both creative practitioners and a range of local community groups, with the aim of prompting imaginative interactions with and altering understandings of our urban spaces and places.
For more information on our recent, current, and future activities please visit the Supernatural Cities website.
Lead researcher: Karl Bell
Karl is a Reader in Cultural and Social History in the School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature. His research interests focus on the relationship between the fantastical imagination and the urban environment. His previous publications have explored urban magical beliefs and practices, Victorian urban legends, nineteenth-century ghost lore, and the construction of haunted urban landscapes. He is also the co-founder of Portsmouth DarkFest.
Alison is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of Media and Performing Arts.
Mark is Principal Lecturer in the School of Creative Technologies.
Tom is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of Media and Performing Arts.
Alex is Research Assistant to the Supernatural Cities project in CEISR.
Eilis is a PhD History student and part-time tutor in the School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature. She is currently researching monstrosity and occupational folklore in nineteenth-century Britain.
Beatrice is a PhD English Literature student in the School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature. She is currently researching Victorian stage magic and representations of stage magicians in nineteenth-century literature
Amanda Garrie is a PhD Creative Writing student and part-time tutor in the School of Media and Performing Arts.
Social media networks
Supernatural Cities is also on Twitter.
- Open Graves, Open Minds - Exploring monstrosity across a broad range of media, past and present.
- Inner Lives Project - A research project which uses interactions with the supernatural to explore the emotional experiences and interior lives of ordinary people between 1300 and 1900.
- The Paranormal Database - This demonstrates a good attempt to outline a national picture of supernatural phenomena.
- The Gothic Imagination - One of the best sites around for keeping abreast of developments in the academic study of gothic cultures.
- The Alchemical Landscape - Based at the University of Cambridge, this ongoing research project explores the creative, aesthetic and political implications of the 'geographical turn'.
Over the last three years we have held interdisciplinary conferences at the University of Portsmouth, Limerick School of Art and Design, and the University of Hertfordshire. In 2019 we will hold a postgraduate and early career researchers conference in Portsmouth. Details of the Call for Papers can be found at [FORTHCOMING]
Portsmouth Darkfest 2019
This cultural festival celebrates the supernatural, the weird, and urban noir, and showcases the wealth of creative talent in Portsmouth. The festival was developed in collaboration between academics from the Supernatural Cities project, and local creative organisations including Portsmouth Writers Hub, 1000 Plateaus art collective, the Front Room, and T’Articulation. More information can be found at the Darkfest website.
Dark City – edited by Karl Bell and Stephen Pryde-Jarman
The Supernatural Cities project has been working with a group of talented local writers, many of whom are members of the Portsmouth Writers Hub, to produce an anthology of supernatural, weird, crime and horror tales set in Portsmouth.
Dr Karl Bell, Reader in Cultural History
School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Find out more
Read more about the projects we're working on, and those which we've recently completed – and find out how they're making a difference.
From enzyme innovation to observing the cosmos, discover where our research takes place.