Defining the Demonic – Jacques Collin de Plancy’s ‘Dictionnaire Infernal’

Astaroth, from the 1863 edition of Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal / archive.org Although Jacques Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal, a monumental compendium of all things diabolical, was first published in 1818 to much success, it is the fabulously illustrated final edition of 1863 which secured the book as a landmark in the study and representation of demons.[…]

How the God You Worship Influences the Ghosts You See

Gallowglass, CC BY-SA By Dr. Frank T. McAndrew / 10.25.2017 Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology Knox College If you’ve ever seen a ghost, you have something in common with 18 percent of Americans. But while there’s evidence that our brains are hardwired to see ghosts, the apparitions we see tend to vary. Historians who study and catalogue ghostly[…]

How the Dead Danced with the Living in Medieval Society

Detail of figures from the Dance Macabre, Meslay-le-Grenet, from late 15th-century France. Ashby Kinch, CC BY By Dr. Ashby Kinch / 10.29.2017 Professor of English The University of Montana In the Halloween season, American culture briefly participates in an ancient tradition of making the world of the dead visible to the living: Children dress as skeletons, teens go[…]

Betwixt Nature and God Dwelt the Medieval ‘Preternatural’

Telling-tales; a comet above Augsburg in 1618. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Laura Bland / 10.30.2017 Visiting Assistant Professor in Medieval Studies University of Houston After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the American pastor John Hagee became notorious for blaming the devastating storm on the ‘sins’ of the people of New Orleans. The outcry forced him[…]

Tricking and Treating has a History

Halloween parade in New York. AP Photo/Andres Kudacki By Dr. Regina Hansen / 10.25.2017 Senior Lecturer in Rhetoric Boston University Over the past few decades, Halloween celebrations have gained in popularity, not only with children and families, but with all those fascinated with the spooky and scary. As a scholar of myth and religion in popular culture, I look at[…]