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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Visual Evidence (Ghosts - the Evidence of Spirits) Public Lecture series : Evidence! Evidence!: from the supernatural to the fantastic in M.R. James and Others

27th October 2015, 18:15, Room ER140, Elvet Riverside Building, Professor Mike Pincombe (University of Newcastle)

“Evidence, evidence,” he said, walking to the window, “that something happened in this room after I left it this morning. The maids believe they found a strange woman’s nightgowns crumpled on the floor. As a matter of fact they are Hettie's nightgowns. I suppose a doctor would say I’d done it myself in a trance.”


So Mr Templeton at a key moment in Edith Bagnold’s ‘The amorous ghost’ (1929). This talk will pick up on some of the threads which make up the text at this point to examine the role of ‘evidence’ in the English ghost story from M. R. James to Elizabeth Bowen. The discovery and interpretation of evidence as a narrative device is obviously important; but the ghost story’s preoccupation with the confusion between being and seeming means that evidence – from the Latin videre, ‘to see’ – is itself under suspicion as a basic fact of the genre. Todorov’s remarks on le fantastique are a tried and trusted way of approaching the topic of evidence in the ghost story, and we will apply to a selection of tales from the first half of the last century; but Prof Pincombe also wants to direct attention towards evidentia as a rhetorical figure of description, and will draw on the less familiar work of Philippe Hamon on le descriptif as well.


The project consists of three separate, but complementary strands: a lecture series, an exhibition on ‘Ghost Stories’ held in October 2015 at the Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre; and a one-day workshop to take place at the IAS on 23 February 2016. Lectures will be held fortnightly on commencing 13 October at 6:15pm in Elvet Riverside 140. Lectures and the exhibition are open to all, though attendees at the opening event of the exhibition will need to register in advance.

For more information on this series of events, please click on this link.


This lecture is free and open to all.

Map - Elvet Riverside is denoted as building No. 25

Contact for more information about this event.