CALL FOR PAPERS: Dialogues with the Dead
Guest Editors: Dr Anna Maria Barry and Dr Fiona Snailham
Communication with the dead has gripped the Western imagination for centuries – from Odysseus’s journey to the underworld and Saul’s attempt to summon Samuel to the Fox sisters’ nineteenth-century mediumship and the purported appearance of Arthur Conan Doyle at the Royal Albert Hall in 1930… several days after his death! This Anglo-American cultural obsession continues to manifest in films such as The Sixth Sense (1999) and Hereafter (2010), as well as popular television series like the long-running Most Haunted which follows the investigations of ghost hunters. In literature, too, there are many accounts of dialogues with the dead, from Hamlet’s conversations with the ghost of his father to W.T. Stead’s Letters From Julia which were supposedly dictated to the author by the eponymous spirit. Other works have considered the role of the medium, from Robert Browning’s Mr Sludge, “The Medium” (1864) to Alison Hart in Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black (2005).
Engaging with this intense interest, our special issue explores depictions of spirit communication across the globe. We are interested in work that explores what is at stake when we claim contact with the other side. How do different cultures afford different levels of respect to deceased voices? How does gender function within these conversations? Does dialogue with the dead influence our perception of authority and to what extent is this reflected in critical responses? How do apparently posthumous conversations reflect the anxieties of the individual acting as conduit, and the time in which they exist? How do we respond to art purportedly created through contact with the dead, and what questions does this raise about the creative process?
Contributing to these discussions, we invite articles, creative pieces, and reviews that address any aspect of dialogues with the spirit world. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Considerations of autobiographical writing by spiritualists and/or mediums – e.g. Elizabeth d’Espérance’s Shadowlands
- Non-fiction accounts of conversations with the spirit world
- How representations of communication with the dead differ across geographic and cultural borders
- Literary and artistic depictions of those who communicate with the dead – for instance: the spiritualist, the shaman, the sangoma
- Art produced through contact with the spirit world – in current practice or by historic practitioners such as Georgiana Houghton, Anna Mary Howitt (later Watts), Emma Kuntz, Florêncio Anton, Augustin Lesage
- Postcolonialism and dialogues with the dead
- Depictions of investigations into spirit communications
- Spiritualism’s influence on the work of writers such as H.D., Sylvia Plath, Rebecca West and Rosamond Lehmann.
- The relationship between spiritualism and genre: modernism, magic realism, the Gothic etc
- Specialist Spiritualist journals and periodicals: The Spiritualist, El Espiritismo, La Revue Spirite, Light
- Automatic writing – in non-fiction and fictional accounts
- Proclamations of contact with the spirits of deceased authors and artists – (e.g) Dickens and the alleged posthumous completion of The Mystery of Edwin Drood
For articles and creative pieces (such as poetry, short stories, flash fiction, videos, artwork and music) please send a 500-word abstract and a short biography by 31st January 2023. Reviews of books, films, games, events, and art related to the dialogues with the dead (800-1,000 words in length) are also welcome. Please send full details of the title and medium you would like to review as soon as possible.
If your abstract is accepted, the full article (maximum 7000 words, including Harvard referencing) and the full creative piece (maximum 5000 words if a written piece) will be dueby 23rd October 2023.
Further information, including Submission Guidelines, are available at the journal website: www.revenantjournal.com. Enquiries are welcome and, along with all submissions, should be directed to both Dr Anna Maria Barry ([email protected]) and Dr Fiona Snailham ([email protected]). Please quote ‘Dialogues with the Dead special issue’ in the subject box.