Weird Tools and Strange Investigations
The journal Preternature (Penn State Press) invites articles that explore the relationship between objects, users and the preternatural world. How were objects construed? In what social, political and cultural contexts were they deployed, and how did the ways they were used help construct experience? How were these instruments related to crucial issues of proof and persuasion?
Objects of all sorts have a long history of serving as bridges to the preternatural world, whether that be in terms of some intrinsic power, or as things possessed or haunted. The shaman's beads, the saint's bones, the astrologer's charts, the conjurer's circle, the scryer's stone, the spiritualists' crystal ball, tarot cards, Ouija boards and even holy books, all might be used in particular contexts as instruments to experience or investigate the world beyond the natural either directly or vicariously. By the same token, these objects might also be imbued with uncanny power in their own right. For those who employed them, such objects helped communicate with ethereal beings or harness their power to worldly ends. But it is also clear from the narratives constructed around them that this was a double-edged sword, for haunted or possessed objects could prove difficult to control, even dangerous, coming eventually to wield power over the user.
Final papers will be due November 15, 2011. Contributions should usually be 8,000 - 12,000 words, including all documentation and critical apparatus. If accepted for publication, manuscripts will be required to adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (style 1, employing endnotes).
Preternature also welcomes original editions or translations of texts related to the topic that have not otherwise been made available in recent editions or in English.
Submissions are made via the website at http://www.preternature.org
Queries may be sent to
Kirsten C. Uszkalo
Department of English
Simon Fraser University
Department of English,
The Pennsylvania State University (Mont Alto)