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Presented By: Department of History

Horror & Enchantment

An Interdisciplinary Symposium

We are fascinated by what we fear. Misery appalls and magnetises. Creation means possibility but also beckons dissolution and catastrophe. Change – perhaps most radically projected as “conversion” – is at once an exhilarating and menacing prospect. When meanings are destabilised and predictabilities lost, experiences of opportunity and of awe jostle with feelings of anxiety and insignificance. Even love casts its shadows, turning what is intimate and familiar into the province of comfort but also dread. Revered ancestors become ghosts, dear neighbours witches. There is desire in absence, monster in treasure, chaos in awe.

A distinguished, international selection of scholars from across the humanities and social sciences gathers in Ann Arbor to explore the entwinement of horror and enchantment – amidst the intrusions and disturbances that characterised the medieval and early modern worlds – in an array of the post-colonial settings and cultural imaginations they helped to set in motion – and in a recognition of the fact that to investigate the coincidence of horror and enchantment in the past is also to inquire into ourselves, and into the volatilities and predicaments of our own times and places.

convened by:
Kenneth Mills, University of Michigan
Kris Lane, Tulane University
Ato Quayson, Stanford University

Josiah Blackmore, Harvard
Clifton Crais, Emory
Harry Garuba, Capetown
Helen Hills, York (UK)
Megan Holmes, Michigan
Kris Lane, Tulane
Paul Christopher Johnson, Michigan
Anne Lester, Johns Hopkins
Jeff Malpas, Tasmania
Kenneth Mills, Michigan
Marcy Norton, Pennsylvania
Katrina B. Olds, San Francisco
Helmut Puff, Michigan
Ato Quayson, Stanford
Heidi Victoria Scott, Massachusetts, Amherst
Sylvia Sellers-García, Boston College
Dale Shuger, Tulane
Zeb Tortorici, New York

Free and open to the public

Guests must register in order to gain access to pre-circulated papers. Please register here:

Conference Schedule:

Friday, 11 October – 1014 Tisch Hall
Introductory Remarks

Session 1. Dark Detections
Dale Shuger, Tulane. This Early Modern Spanish Life: Podcasts from the Archives

Clifton Crais, Emory. Into the Dark: Nightmares of World History

9:40-9:50 Hayley Bowman, Michigan
9:50-10:10: discussion

Session 2. Matter and Form in Motion
Anne Lester, Johns Hopkins. Exceptional Matter and the Enchantment of the Frame: Traces, Translations, and a Techne for Ecologies of Devotion

Megan Holmes, Michigan. Enchanted Figuration and Performative Artifice in the Making and Unmaking of Demons in Early Modern European Painting

Marcy Norton, Pennsylvania. Enchantment and the Columbian Exchange

10:40-10:50 Hayley Bowman, Michigan
10:50-11:10: discussion


Session 3. Enlightening Shadows
Heidi Victoria Scott, Massachusetts, Amherst. Between Horror and Enchantment in an Eighteenth-Century Mining Manual from Spanish America

Katrina Olds, San Francisco. The Picaresque Enlightenment – A Preliminary Précis

11:50-12:00 Richard Hoffman Reinhardt, Michigan
12:00-12:20: discussion

Session 4. Summoned from Storystores
Josiah Blackmore, Harvard. Monsters of the Sky and Other Notable Things: Portugal and the Satisfaction of the Wise

Paul Christopher Johnson, Michigan. “Creature-Feeling”: Religion, Apparatus, and the Laboratory of the Human

Kris Lane, Tulane. Tales of Potosí Revisited: Horror, Enchantment, and the Origins of Andean Gothic

12:40-12:50 Richard Hoffman Reinhardt, Michigan
12:50-1:10: discussion

2:30-3:20 A group visit to the University of Michigan Museum of Art for a brief presentation by Megan Holmes on a work in the collection that resonates with the symposium's theme

Session 5. Fable, Fashion and Fate
Helen Hills, York (UK). Colonial Materiality: Silver's Alchemy of Trauma and Salvation
Zeb Tortorici, New York. Fabricated Fictions of Morality: The “Oral Pear” and Popular Perceptions of the Inquisition

3:50-4:00 RIW discussant TBA
4:00-4:20: discussion

Saturday, 12 October – 1014 Tisch Hall

Introductory Remarks

Session 6. Damage and Deferral
Sylvia Sellers-García, Boston College. Three Dismemberments

Helmut Puff, Michigan. Waiting in the Antechamber

Harry Garuba, Capetown. Horror and Enchantment in the Postcolony: Wole Soyinka’s Madmen and Specialists and the Disfiguring of Metaphor

10:35-10:45 RIW discussant TBA, Michigan
10:45- 11:00: discussion

Coffee Break

Session 8. Roundtable
Josiah Blackmore, Clifton Crais, Anne Lester, Sylvia Sellers-García, Dale Shuger

11:30-12:00 Discussion
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