The Occult & Popular Social Movements

Today I’ll be in Glasgow to attend a day-long workshop on a topic of interest for several things I’m working on at present including the serial. You can see the full program here. It’s been coordinated by Popular Occulture in Britain, 1875-1947. I expect I will write about it afterward, as usual.

If you need entertainment in the mean time, check out my latest History Witch column.

MAMO: Rome

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Good news! Just got word that my presentation ‘A Chieftain Unchosen: Examining the Raven King through Medieval Prophecy’ has been approved for MAMO: The Middle Ages in the Modern World conference, which will take place in Rome in November. Yay! One of my ulterior motives for saying no to other things is to make sure I can afford to go to this one as I hope to see not only the fabulous Alessandra Bava but also pal Dan Curley (and ROME!).

Yes! This is another paper on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Yes! I am trying to finish up another essay on the novel this very day (or maybe tomorrow — always take another day to look at it). Yes! This pretty much seals the deal that I am actually writing a whole book about this novel. Heh. This is how things sneak up on you.

Perhaps I am just part of the prophecy, too…

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Charms Conference #FolkloreThursday

Sneaking into the last few hours of #FolkloreThursday and finally sharing a bit about the Charms Conference I went to last month at Harvard. It was great: even better, there’s a proposed proceedings volume in the works so you may be able to share some of the exciting things I heard and saw that weekend. It doesn’t include a CD alas, so you won’t hear me singing a medieval charm* but I will write about the process involved. More pix going on the ‘book.

*Given the enthusiastic response, I am working on recording some medieval charms in a variety of ways. More to come —

PCA in Indy with Miss Wendy

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I know I’ve been a bit remiss in sharing my travel adventures for your vicarious pleasure but I confess I am overwhelmed, exhausted and looking forward to escaping back to Scotland. This summer the plan remains no conference presentations. Temptations arise, but I have beat them back like St Anthony.

Having grown up in the (northern) Midwest there was not the thrill of ‘vacation’-like travel that places like New Orleans or San Diego offer: our search for tasty food was mostly frustrated. The conference itself was good. I caught a few different panels in addition to our own and of course hanging out with Miss Wendy is always a treat.

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Hey, I’m in this book!

One thing that made the sojourn a success was stopping by the Vonnegut Library. It was great to wander through all the memorabilia and feel as if you were dropping by the man’s house to poke through his library. There’s the letter his dad sent to him that he finally got after the war (WWII) was over and never opened, passing it on to his son Mark with the admonition that he never open it. He in turn gave it to the library with the same instructions. Take a squint at it if you’re there and wonder what’s inside.

The whole set of photos are on FB here.

Horror, The Fall & other news

Mark E Smith of the FallOut now:

Over on the Fox Spirit Books blog I get to kick off Women of Horror month with a piece on The Haunting of Hill House, one of the finest novels ever written. Go read it (my piece and the novel).

I have a piece ‘The Three Rs’ over at 3AM Magazine. I had written for another thing that fell apart but it suited as a kind of encomium for Mark E. Smith. More to come doubtless as there are many things floating around in my head.

Chapter 4 of Madonna of the Wasps is out: chapter 5 at the end of the month. If you want to have a print copy, I have good news coming soon.

You listened to the radio show, right? Feel free to let WGXC know you liked it.

UPDATE: I am always forgetting to share my History Witch posts: most recently Sounding Out the Water Elf (another bit in my thinking about the sound of charms which I’ll be talking about at the Harvard conference in April).

NEXT WEEK: The SpeakEasy dames and I will be guest hosts at Ione’s Annual Dream Festival next week. If you’re on Facebook, join us talking and thinking about dreams and how they affect our waking lives. Some of the posts will be here as well. Starts on Monday!

Forthcoming Publications:

Twice Reviled: Medieval Fact & Fantasy.’ Out of the Cloister: Lone Medievalists Making the Middle Ages Matter: forthcoming piece on what it’s like to be the lone medievalist in a department as well as a fiction writing-lit prof (hint: even people in academia like you to stick to one category or the other).

The Unlikely Milliner & The Magician of Threadneedle-Street.” Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature: forthcoming essay on the use of tarot in Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell — yes, yet another piece on that book so I suspect I may well end up writing a book about it.

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Travel: after a break of [cough] years, I’ll be heading to Kalamazoo for the annual Medieval Congress. Looking forward to my first paper on Rauf Coilyear, one of my new obsessions. I feel a little sad because I think the last time I was at the ‘Zoo was when I got to hang out with Kathryn Fernquist Hinds, who died suddenly this week. Her husband Arthur has asked those honouring her memory to make donations in her name to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU. You might also want to read her books.

I hope to go to MAMO as well: this year it will be in Rome. We shall see. Finances always questionable — and of course, I need to get accepted! But a scheme afoot to catch up with Alexandra Bava naturally and Dan Curley who I think might be there as well in November.

[Fill in the elventy thousand things I have forgotten to mention or haven’t finished]

Oh, and I have more Edinburgh pictures to share: must remember to do so!

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See Emily Play

2017-10-27 11.27.31The last event for me in October was NEPCA at UMass-Amherst where I gave a presentation on Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall; at PCA National this spring I’ll be talking about the film adaptations, too. I also finally visited Emily Dickinson’s house. Despite living in New England for many years, I had not managed to get there.

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It was magic, as you might imagine. I didn’t know this enigmatic middle child had auburn hair. It was odd to see furniture that was like the vintage stuff Robert has bought for our house which is about the same age as the Dickinson house. Her actual bed is there, reproductions of some of her letters and the many scraps of odd paper on which she wrote in flashes of imagination before revising over and over.


Down a well-worn path next door her brother and sister-in-law lived in The Evergreens with a mad swirl of activity. Unlike the increasingly retiring poet, they hosted soirees and had a bowl full of visiting cards. They also stuffed the house with art, many from the Hudson River Valley school as well as landscapes and ‘orientalist’ works. Our lively guide Keeley not only filled in the history about various objects and rooms but quoted from the poems often. The words rang vividly in the places the poet had lived and loved. Make the time to visit. I plan to go back when I can do so more leisurely.

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ISATMA 2017

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When I saw Pauline Oliveros about a year ago I didn’t know it would be the last time. Her concert with the International Contemporary Ensemble at Bard’s Fisher Center was –as she always was — riveting and compelling. Hearing about her new work with assistive technology for music (she had just come back from Norway) was fascinating and very moving. As I had begun finding ways to move my fascination with sound into my scholarly work, it expanded further my thoughts in that direction.

So I’m pleased to say that I will be part of the upcoming ISATMA conference at RPI’s EMPAC, talking about medieval magic and music in charms. More on the free conference which includes a tribute concert for Oliveros:

5th Annual International Symposium on Adaptive Technology in Music and Art (ISATMA), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

“EXPANDING THE IMPROVISING COMMUNITY ACROSS ABILITIES, BODIES, CULTURES”

October 20-22, 2017

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation supports the The International Symposium on Assistive Technology for Music and Art (ISATMA), a conference devoted to new technologies and artistic concepts for artists across abilities to create new multi-media works. This symposium, hosted by the Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture, showcases adaptive musical interfaces in an immersive telepresence environment which celebrates international collaborations and limit-defying improvisations. Expanding the improvising community aims to stretch social, perceptual, and cultural differences potentially generative of creative transformation: of music, of community, of consciousness.

Download the press release (PDF).

Pauline will be there in spirit at least as her legacy expands.

Pauline Oliveros Listening all the time