Popular Ghosts: Exploring the space between

11 June 2010

Haunting has long been a theme in popular culture, and Popular Ghosts goes further to establish ghosts within the cultural imagination and to explore what it is that makes this space so compelling now.

Popular Ghosts

Co-edited by Dr. María del Pilar Blanco (UCL Spanish and Latin American Studies) and Dr. Esther Peeren (University of Amsterdam) and stemming from Dr Blanco's work on haunting and space, the book theorizes the cultural role that ghosts play in our understanding of everyday life and within the context of transcending historical boundaries. The essays in Popular Ghosts explore film, novels, photography, television, music, social practices, and political structures from different cultures to reopen the questions that surround our haunted sense of the everyday.

Dr Blanco said: “My interest in ghosts and contemporary culture emerged quite a while ago, as I did my doctoral thesis in Comparative Literature at New York University on ghosts and North and Latin-American landscapes. There appears to have been a resurgence in all things haunted on a global scale - from television shows to museum exhibits on ghost photography to literature. And, in academia, ghosts have been theorised according to a set number of interpretive technologies: the Gothic, psychoanalysis, and trauma studies. But, what I wanted to ask was, is this enough? Is there a way of reading ghosts as symptoms not of a suppressed past that is returning, but of contemporaneity?"

In preparation for her collection, Dr Blanco got in touch with people whose previous work on ghosts and haunting she admired from Martin Harries, Peter Hitchcock, Colin Davies and Julian Wolfreys to Catherine Spooner and Pamela Thurschwell. Dr Blanco also wanted to see what others, who were at the start of their careers, were working on in terms of the different manifestations of haunting in everyday global experiences.

Popular Ghosts is an expansive collection with chapters on diverse issues: from ghosts in the work of Samuel Beckett to the psycho-geographies of alternative country music in the U.S to a chapter on the ‘haunted lecture theatres’ of recent television series. It is published by Continuum.


Related news

UCL Royal Literary Fund Fellow awarded the Ondaatje Prize