This academic conference explores the role of the supernatural in literature and film throughout history.
Although tales of the supernatural are as old as literature
itself, they have never fallen completely out of fashion but have
instead kept pace with the times. Whereas the hero of the Medieval
poem vanquished beasts from beyond Anglo-Saxon civilisation and the knights in
Spenser’s Early Modern
fought in an allegorical
Holy War, the supernatural continues to shed light on its societal context
in today’s literature and film. For instance, changing cultural and scientific trends have caused Bram
(1897) to mean something different from
the diverse Translyvanian vampires of Murnau (1922), Universal
Studios (1931), Hammer Films (1958-74), Polanski (1967), Coppola (1992),
Brooks (1995), Argento (2012), and so on.
Yet the literary and cinematic supernatural cannot merely be
regarded as an artistic technique for coping with human aspirations and
fears; it also relates to genuine historical or contemporary religious
and folk beliefs. Relative to their fictional reflections, such
real-world beliefs may serve entirely different purposes—or indeed, no
purposes at all.
From friendly ghosts to vengeful spirits, from dainty
fairies to Lovecraftian horrors, from magic dragons to atomic monsters,
the literary and cinematic supernatural has had an enduring influence on
how we live our lives.
This conference will take place in association with the
conference 'Vernacular Religion, Folk Belief, and Traditions of the
On 28 March, delegates can participate in a post-conference tour of
beautiful Lantau Island (Hong Kong),
site of Tai O fishing village and the world’s largest seated bronze Buddha.