Phantasmagoria: In Conversation with Ghosts

deadline for submissions: 
January 29, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Centre for Culture and Heritage, University of Suffolk
contact email: 

Centre for Culture and Heritage, University of Suffolk, Monday 29 April 2024

Phantasmagoria: In Conversation with Ghosts

This one-day Graduate Conference precedes the M. R. James Symposium on Tuesday 30 April 2024


‘Phantasmagoria’, Lewis Carroll’s longest poem, is a humorous tale about a human’s encounter with a ghost. Written across seven cantos, the poem explores each character’s position and perspective. Ghosts, says the narrator, ‘can visit when they choose’ and humans ‘can’t refuse /To grant the interview.’ But the phantom reminds its ‘victim’ that ghosts ‘have just as good a right [...] to fear the light’ as humans to fear the dark and should be treated with ‘proper cordiality.’

In the last canto, the narrator laments the departure of this ‘friendly phantom,’ having learned something valuable about what it means to be human. The ‘hues of life are dull and gray’ without the presence of ghosts.

The Centre for Culture and Heritage at the University of Suffolk invites postgraduates from any institution to explore the ‘hues of life’ through meaningful encounters with spectres, phantoms, and ghosts. The conference welcomes 20-minute papers from a variety of subject disciplines and perspectives within the Humanities and beyond.

We welcome critical and creative presentations from postgraduate students and researchers. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The genre of ghost fiction
  • Folklore and the supernatural
  • Haunting
  • Memories and histories
  • Psychology and the paranormal
  • Spectres, phantoms, and identity
  • Place, space, and location
  • The language and linguistics of haunting
  • Explaining the unexplained
  • Embracing the inexplicable

Conference registration is £15 and all presenting graduates are welcome to stay for a dinner, screening, exhibition, and symposium on ghost-story writer M. R. James for the all-inclusive price of £35.

The exhibition and screening will take place on Monday evening at The Hold, Suffolk Archives. The M. R. James symposium, ‘Sequestered Places, Heaving Seas: The Life and Works of M. R. James’ takes place at the University of Suffolk on Tuesday 30 April.

Please submit an abstract (no more than 300 words) and a short bio (100 words) to Dr Lindsey Scott ( and Dr Jamie Bernthal-Hooker  ( by Monday 29 January 2024. Please use ‘Phantasmagoria conference abstract’ as your email subject line.

We aim to notify everyone of the outcome by Monday 12 February 2024. Please let us know if you have any questions or require further assistance and we will do our best to support you.