IIPC Debate 23 April, 2012

IIPC Debate #33 (organised together with TUCEMEMS — Turku Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies)


23th April, 4 pm Lecture Hall II (Main Building, University of Turku)

Professor Kathryn A. Edwards (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and University of South Carolina):

… Living with Ghosts:
… Europe’s Haunted History in the Later Middle Ages

Frequently when scholars discuss later medieval Europe, they see it as tumultuous time encompassing the Black Death, frequent wars, the triumph of death, and religious hysteria, all culminated by the challenges to traditional society, culture, and faith embodied in the Renaissance and Reformations. European folklore from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, particularly European belief in ghosts, tells a much more complicated and intriguing story. Not alive nor quite dead, potentially angelic or demonic, and simultaneously natural and supernatural, throughout this time ghosts danced in village churchyards, testified in legal cases, cared for newborns, and disturbed demonologists. Beliefs about ghosts and their activities reveal a more stable and adaptable world that that typically portrayed, one in which the living and the dead provided mutual support.

In this presentation, Professor Kathryn A. Edwards of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS) and the University of South Carolina (USA) will describe the culture of death where ghosts flourished in late medieval Europe. She will challenge some stereotypical assumptions about the cultural effects of the Black Death and the abandonment of the dead by religious reformers. She will also tell some late medieval ghost stories!

Kathryn A. Edwards received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently a Pierre Marie Curie Fellow at the HCAS and a Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) and American Historical Association, among other agencies, and has written three books, the most recent of which translates a 17th-century account of a French haunting into English. While in Helsinki she is writing her next book, Living with Ghosts: The Dead in European Society from the Black Death to the Enlightenment.

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