Things That Go Bump In The Night: Premodern Narratives and Depictions of Spirit Visitation

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
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Things that go Bump in the Night: Premodern Narratives and Depictions of Spirit Visitation


IMC Leeds 2020


Organizers: Asa Simon Mittman and Thea Tomaini


MEARCSTAPA seeks papers for the 2020 International Medieval Congress at Leeds on the varietal experiences of spirit visitation in premodern narratives and art. In accordance with the conference theme of “Borders”, we are especially concerned with liminal spaces and states of being. In contemporary ghost narratives there is a clear distinction between spirits of the dead who communicate with the living directly (by appearing in the material world to a human being who is awake and alert) and those who communicate with the living indirectly (by appearing in dreams to people who are asleep, or in visions to people who are in a trancelike state). In medieval and early modern literature, art, and theological narratives about spirits of the dead, this distinction is far less clear. Waking experiences in premodern narratives indicate the same sense of validation as non-waking experiences. The sensory reaction and emotional state of a person in the aftermath of a dream or vision (as in The Vision of Barontus) differs from that of a person (or people) experiencing the sensory shock of seeing, hearing, or speaking to a ghost in the material world, in real time (as in The Ghost of Beaucaire). Nevertheless, a ghost, phantom, or spectre appearing in a dream or vision is purported to be as “real,” its message to be as consequential and as meaningful, as one that manifests in the material world (whether is it seen, as a spectral figure, or unseen, as an invisible presence). We are looking for papers that explore issues of validation and experience in communication with the spirit world. In the premodern world, what is a “real” ghost experience where “crossover” is concerned?


Send proposals of 250 words maximum to and

Deadline: September 1, 2019