Talks

I speak once or twice a month on facets of the macabre supernatural. Past venues/promoters include QEDcon, Skepticon, Ratio, The Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, The Ghost Club, South Place Ethical Society, The Fortean Society, Edinburgh Skeptics on the Fringe Festival and The Barbican among many others.

Each talk lasts around an hour, has light-hearted and entertaining elements, and can be fitted into a programme format eg. after-dinner.

Heresy to Witchcraft

Witchcraft became big news in the 16th and 17th centuries. Torrents of learned discussion turned to action, and the corpses piled high.

But where did the legal infrastructure for such a mass persecution arise? Had this power already been tested and used? Deborah will discuss totalitarianism, paranoia and yearnings for empire in the making of a very bloody delusion.

 

The Natural Historie of the European Werewolf

The werewolf is a very familiar motif from horror, but sixteenth and seventeenth Europeans understood several concepts to fall under the ‘werewolf/lycanthropy’ category.

Join Deborah for a talk about murderers, scapegoats and witches in which we’ll find out who is worse – man or beast.

 

Krampus

Have you been naughty or nice?

St Nicholas may bring good children rewards, but he has a companion who has different clients. Discover this central European tradition whose popularity is rising again.

Close your eyes and wish for gifts … if you dare.

 

Interview with a Vampire Expert

The Vampire has fascinated Western Europe from the early 1700s, but the tradition was a real part of Eastern European lives for a constiderable time before that. The archetype has been taken up by art of all kinds, but what is the authentic history behind the tales of the predatory, living dead?

We will look at recent attempts to understand the folklore and try to work out how an Eastern European ritual made its way to late nineteenth century New England.

Unnatural Predators: the Folklore of Fear

Fear of predatory supernatural entities has been found in all eras and cultures. Why should these ideas be so stable across time and space, and what can this tell us about being human? Among other questions, we’ll ask: why do ghosts live in electric clocks; why do vampires visit in autumn; and do dogs believe in ghosts?