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‘A Fiend in the Furrows’ is a three-day conference in association with the School of English and the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queen’s University Belfast, exploring ‘folk horror’ in British and Irish literature, film, television, and music. The event will include academic papers, film screenings, musical performances, and readings.

Supernatural and horrific aspects of folklore inform the Gothic and weird writings of
M.R. James, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood and Lord Dunsany, where philosophical and religious certainties are haunted and challenged by the memory of older cultural traditions. Folklore has a profound and unsettling impact on the imaginative perception of landscape, identity, time and the past. Folk memory is often
manifested as an intrusive and violent breach from an older repressed, ‘primitive’ or
‘barbarous’ state that transgresses the development of cultural order. Gothic and
weird fictions are burgeoning as the focus of serious academic enquiry in philosophy
and literary criticism, and the genres continue to have an impact on popular culture.

Through the writing of Nigel Kneale and Alan Garner, among others, the tradition
has influenced British and Irish horror cinema and television, being revived and reimagined in films such as Quatermass and the Pit (1967), The Devil Rides Out (1968), Witchfinder General (1968), Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), The Wicker Man (1973), and more recently in Wake Wood (2010) and Ben Wheatley’s Kill List (2011) and A Field in England (2013). The conference will examine ‘folk horror’ texts, films and music in their period context and the implications for British and Irish culture’s understanding of their own unsettled pasts.

It will feature papers examining topics such as:

  • Late 19th century Gothic literature
  • Early 20th century weird fiction
  • Modernism and weird fiction
  • The ghost story
  • Contemporary horror and fantasy fiction
  • Children’s literature
  • Folklore collectors and redactors
  • Folklore and the supernatural
  • Primitivism, atavism, degeneration
  • Rural and urban folklore
  • Horror cinema and television
  • Folkmusic

 

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