Panel 4B - Harry Potter
- "'It's real for us': Secular Religiosity and JK Rowling's Harry Potter" is about the role of The Tales of Beedle the Bard
and the impact it has had on Potterverse and the fandom as a whole. The text is a source of meaning and an expansion of canon, and is underlying culture, a foundational folk text in Harry's world. It is "allowed" to be canon because JK Rowling wrote it. Because popular culture can often be a source of meaning, scholars must take these movements seriously.
- "'You must've heard of Babbitty Rabbitty!': Fairy Tales and Folklore in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series" is about how folklore traditions have been used to develop folklore for imaginary worlds. The Potter world is parallel to but separate from ours, which allows for its own consistency of reality. There is subversion of traditional folklore images/perceptions, eg. mermaids, and creation of its own folklore, yet the style of tradition is very similar to ours, allowing both Muggle- and wizard-raised children to recognise it. The tales in Beedle's collection have relations in our folklore. Overall there is a balance of seriousness and humour, and the ability to do this is at the heart of Rowling's use of folklore.
I couldn't not
go to a panel devoted to Potter!!!!! They were both absolutely fascinating and I'm really glad I went to this one. Neither were things I'd given much thought to before. It's also given me things to think about for my own writing. Also, the second talk was given by an English Lit professor I met at the Tolkien festival I went to with snarkysneak
in 2010.Panel 5B - Werewolves and Vampires in Films
- "'Real Vampires Don't Sparkle': Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, a dead end" - Kronos was an attempt to revive Hammer Horrors' reputation and re-portray the vampire as a dangerous villain. The changes in how vampires are written and portrayed over time, and their rehabilitation more as an addict than something intrinsically evil. It leaves the question: Where next for the vampire genre?
- "The Werewolf in Lovers' Lane" - the folklorist has an advantage over the film critic because they know a wider range of folklore. Are the werewolf and hook-man legends interchangeable? Lots of references to Supernatural.
Is it real or a hoax? Sightings drawing attention to the visual. What is the symbolism of the hook man? Inseparability of folklore and fantasy.
The first one made me think I should probably investigate Hammer horrors. My DM should be a good source - he did a degree in Film Studies and I know he likes those films! Thoroughly fascinating and made me really think about the vampire genre as a whole. Now I need to get on with actually writing some stuff for the speaker's weird-fiction website like I promised! The second one, I had real difficulty following because it made no sense, the guy had a strong French accent and kept mumbling into the floor and the points he was trying to make were unclear and I still can't work out what they were meant to be. Additionally, I'm pretty sure he got episodes of Supernatural mixed up (reinforced by a conversation I had with someone afterwards who's another Supernatural fan). It was the only bad one in the entire weekend, which isn't too bad considering!Keynote Lecture - 'Paying Heed to Old Wives': Drawing Upon and Creating Folklore in Fantasy Fiction
I remember it being really really interesting and being related specifically to the speaker's work and culture (she's Australian) but it wasn't stuff I could take notes on. Really good, though!Conference Paper by Special Guest of Honour - Urban Folklore on Discworld
There is a sharp and realistic awareness of how fractures of folklore pervade urban areas; parody of real life. Parallels between British customs and Ankh-Morpork. Overall conclusion that Ankh-Morpork traditions are born out of British customs, and that If nobody knows, that's proper folklore.
Absolutely fascinating. I got a lot of the references because of being raised English folkie. Have resolved to read more Pratchett, though it probably won't be until after my MA!Panel 6B - From the Middle Ages to the Final Frontier
- "Wonder Voyages from the Odyssey to the Starship Enterprise" - the voyage as a standard plot device; strange and unknown places are key. Monsters and islands, and what they represent. The wide range of authors who drew on a huge lot of folklore. Archetypal perils, the end of voyages and what they mean. The voyage changes you. Very few women leading.
- "Wights and Ancestors: a Comparative Archaeology of the Barrow-Downs and Pallinghurst Barrow" provided us with an overview on barrows. They are generally settings of unusual activities. Particular folklore is associated with particular types of barrow. The barrow and landscape as a liminal zone; the uncanny nature of landscape. Savage spirits; superstition and sacrifices yet still our ancestors. Barrows as a doorway to old cultures. The collision and intertwining of folklore and archaeology. How weird the internal can be. Fantasy can engage with archaeology and landscape without the destructive elements of archaeology; merging of traditions.
- "Naming the Green Man of the Medieval Church" sets out to ask is the Green Man a Christian or pagan symbol? The reusing of images, elaborating on the story of Adam, Seth and seeds from the Tree of Knowledge; the Apocrypha. Bits and pieces pulled together to make something new. Variations on the story and myth. The Green Man as a symbol of resurrection, linking the events on the Cross to Eden, from Adam to the Crucifixion. Role of pictures and images in a largely illiterate culture.
All of these were really interesting. I wish I'd taken my dictaphone so I could have recorded the middle talk because there was some archaeology jargon that I'm not familiar with and I could have asked friends about. Ah well, nothing majorly disastrous! The Green Man stuff is not something I'm that familiar with, although I know a little of it due to my folkie background. I hadn't thought of him as a potentially Christian symbol but it does make sense. The voyages talk was interesting and it refreshed my memory and what I know about the subject. Must look into this and think about it further.Panel 7 - Legends of Ghosts and Spirits
'How much of it is actually true must be left to the gentle reader's own discretion, but it makes interesting and entertaining reading" focuses a lot on the controversial figure of Margaret Murray, who was certain that things such as ghosts were dying out because the development of technology was dissipating the supernatural. There was also a focus on particular popular authors; no clear division between narrative and an authority figure. Stories aren't necessarily validated but people engage with them; printed stories become points of reference. Some lore is invented by authors and storytellers and then become part of local legends; literary representations of oral narrative become themselves their own traditions. Beware of false dichotomies. Tradition is dynamic and adaptive.
- "'I Saw Him on the Burning Mountains': Legend, Literature and Law in Booty v. Barnaby" - modes of experience of the supernatural. Written attracts notions of hard evidence in a different way to oral traditions. Structure remains the same; no one text depends upon another.
I wasn't familiar with what the first talk was on but it made a lot of sense to me and I shall bear them in mind in future. The second one I enjoyed but I think I would have got more out of it if I was familiar (or had actually heard of!) the main text focused upon.
Fantastic conference. Next year it's happening in Cardiff and I have every intention of going.
Right, bedtime. It's midnight here.