The Social Function of Haunted

Written by Jordan Meyer

It seems that we often use haunting to discuss our culture’s social mores and taboos. For example, scholars Colleen Boyd and Coll Thrush theorize that stories of haunting associated with Native Americans are really a means of discussing the social shame held by those who have benefitted from the oppressions of the past. Without directly discussing this shame, however, non-native Americans share ghost stories associated with these indigenous peoples, thus becoming haunted by their own shame.

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Investigating the Supernatural with ‘The Oddity Files’

Written by Shelby Hatfield

It is common knowledge that our world is becoming more technologically advanced every day. What is considered modern now is almost obsolete in what seems like the blink of an eye. But with all of our machines and technology, there is still one thing that the modern world has never been able to understand: the world of the supernatural. Ghosts, ghouls, demons, and creatures of the night have forever remained a mystery to the empirical society that we are today, but that has never mitigated our interest in the uncanny.

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Making Space for Ghosts

Written by Jackson Eflin

The Digital Literature Review class had a visit from Anthropologist Dr. Cailín Murray on August 20th, who told us about recording the stories told to her about the disruption of a Native American burial ground.  She told us that when recording stories, it is vital to “Encounter, and document, with humility.”  Several weeks ago I had the chance to attend an exorcism, and have tried to do just that.  Names have been changed for privacy.

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Dr. Deborah Mix Interviews Anthropologist Dr. Tok Thompson About His Course on Ghost Stories

Tok Thompson is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. His research and teaching has focused on folklore, and he’s the author of the book Ireland’s Pre-Celtic Archaeological and Anthropological Heritage and of numerous articles and book chapters on folklore and popular culture. He developed and teaches a class at USC titled “Ghost Stories Throughout Time and Around the World,” and he was kind enough to agree to answer some questions about ghost stories and what haunts us.

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“Strict and Most Observant Watch”: Hamlet’s Ghostly Postmodern Supervision

As written by Wendy Faunce

Since its earliest performances nearly four centuries ago, Shakespeare’s Hamlet has displayed a distinct and compelling surveillance motif. Postmodern productions continue to employ the motif and sometimes allow it to dominate both plot and characters. For example the use of security cameras in Gregory Doran’s Hamlet foregrounds this domination. These modern means of surveillance contribute a haunted, ghostly ingredient that saturates the entire production in ways very different from productions past.

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Homely, Unhomely: Uncanny Architecture and Haunted Palestinian Refugee Camps

As written by Esther Wolfe

In his essay, “The Uncanny”, Freud famously interprets a definition of the uncanny within an examination of the German “Heimlich,” or “homely,” vs. the “unheimlich,” or “unhomely.”  Using examples from the German language, Freud shows that the terms are used interchangeably to describe the uncanny—what is uncanny is both “homely” and familiar, and “unhomely” or unfamiliar. Implicitly however, Freud’s treatment of “heimlich” and “unheimlich” also provides a deeper, deconstructive orientation of the uncanny. The slippery exchange between the meaning of “heimlich” and “unheimlich” shows that what is uncanny is bound up in fundamental anxieties about the construction and instability of boundary itself. In this way, the anxiety of the uncanny is not only that it is both familiar and unfamiliar, but that it also exists in multiple dimensions, transgressing boundaries and destabilizing structures of signification.

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Belief in an Age of Disbelief

Written by Jordan Meyer

In many ways, the culture of 21st-century America echoes that of the Renaissance. New and amazing scientific advancements are being made every day, and logic and reason are valued very highly. Liberal educations provide students with a well-rounded base of knowledge ranging from anthropology to zoology, and more than half of the national adult population has obtained at least some college education (U.S. Census Bureau). Why then does the supernatural still play such a prominent role in entertainment?

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