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Seminar on Ghost Walks Mariane Vinhas Investigatio http://mastersfdl.hypotheses.org/425?

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COMPTE-RENDU D'EXPOSITION

Seminar on Ghost Walks


Mariane Vinhas
PAR MASTERSFDL 29/05/2017

Seminar on Ghost Walks presented by


Scott Brewster
The ghost walk is an abiding feature of the contemporary tourist
landscape in many parts of the world, and its popularity shows no
sign of diminishing. The narrative structures and pedestrian
rhythms of this leisure experience are strongly indebted to the
literary ghost story, and the seminar explores the ways in which
the work of M. R. James anticipates the pattern of wandering and
digression encouraged by the contemporary ghost walk. Ghost
walks, like ghost stories, mark the enduring appeal of a story that
lingers, or of a resonant place that makes one pause.

Scott Brewster

Dr. Scott Brewster was invited to Radboud University to give a


lecture on his main field of research: M. R. James. Scott Brewster
is a Reader in English in the College of Arts [from the University of
Lincoln]. His research expertise lies in the fields of Gothic
literature, Irish Studies, psychoanalysis and modern poetry.[1]
This lecture was related to his research on the ghost story and he
is currently working on the Routledge Handbook to the Ghost Story.
This book:

[] sets out to survey and significantly extend a new field of


criticism which has been taking shape over recent years, centering
on the ghost story and bringing together a vast range of

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Seminar on Ghost Walks Mariane Vinhas Investigatio http://mastersfdl.hypotheses.org/425?utm_source=alert

interpretive methods and theoretical perspectives. The main task


of the volume is to properly situate the genre within historical and
contemporary literary cultures across the globe, and to explore its
significance within wider literary contexts as well as those of the
supernatural. The Handbook offers the most significant
contribution to this new critical field to date, assembling some of
its leading scholars to examine the key contexts and issues
required for understanding the emergence and development of
the ghost story.[2]

The lecture was entitled Ghost Walks: M. R. James and The Casual
Tourist. Brewster focused on the very definition of the ghost walk
using different sources and quotations pointing out similarities
found within M. R. James short stories.

The popularity of ghost walks is still alive today; for


instance, Wendy Holden asserts that exploring what happens after
dark, telling stories are fundamental. In other words, people are
curious of what can possibly scare them but are stimulated by this
specific form of storytelling. In addition, Hanks Haunted
Heritage[3] explores the cultural politics of ghost tourism,
populism and the past; Hanks affirms that the narrating is related
to the pleasure of listening to ghost stories. The touristic
engagement with ghosts is not unique to England. Ghost walks are
the most globally ubiquitous form of ghost tourism available in
cities throughout the world like Prague, Singapore, Venice,
Amsterdam, Melbourne, and Montreal to name only a few. (16)
Emma McEvoy, in Gothic Tourism[4], clearly defines the ghost
walk as a singular activity: A ghost walk is no mere assemblage of
all the ghost stories that are associated with a place (whether
pre-existing or invented for the walk itself). It is a sculpted and
crafted phenomenon, not merely a walk plus stories, but a journey
that creates a narrative in its own right (123). Indeed, Brewster
acknowledges that the ghost walk can be seen as a form of secular
pilgrimage in its way of leading people in places while telling

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Seminar on Ghost Walks Mariane Vinhas Investigatio http://mastersfdl.hypotheses.org/425?utm_source=alert

ghost stories. In keeping with the idea of pilgrimage, in M. R.


James Count Magnus,[5] the main character, Mr. Wraxall, finds
out about Count Magnus who has been on the Black Pilgrimage
and brought a spirit back with him. Here, Brewster mentions a
particular aspect of M. R. James short stories: the importance of,
what surrounds its characters. Mr. Wraxall reflects that it is
curious [] how on retracing a familiar path ones thoughts
engross one to the absolute exclusion of surrounding objects (62).
Most of Jamess characters are distracted while walking and the
distraction is fundamental. The distraction creates suspense and
emphasizes the dubious atmosphere which, predict that
something might happen.

The students were required to read along with Count


Magnus Oh, Whistle, and Ill Come to You, My Lad, A
Neighbours Landmark and A View from a Hill. These stories
are part of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary published in 1904. The
main themes of these short stories are: the forbidden, knowledge
and male-centeredness. Indeed, each character seems to start on a
quest for the inexplicable to have access to the knowledge of the
supernatural, crossing the forbidden, which exists.

Ghost walks are part of the daily folklore. This kind of


entertainment is appealing, hence the audiences curiosity and
excitement. M. R. Jamess ghost stories do have similarities with
todays ghost walks searching for the forbidden, for instance. I
hope I will be able to participate in one of them once, why not
here in Nijmegen, as I heard that it was possible. This seminar was
very interesting, I like ghost stories quite a lot and I am an admirer
of Edgar Allan Poes works.

Mariane Vinhas

M2 Anglais

[1]http://staff.lincoln.ac.uk/sbrewster

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Seminar on Ghost Walks Mariane Vinhas Investigatio http://mastersfdl.hypotheses.org/425?utm_source=alert

[2]https://www.routledge.com/

[3]Michele Hanks, Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost


Tourism, Populism, and the Past (USA: Left Coast Press, 2015)

[4]Emma McEvoy, Gothic Tourism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan,


2016)

[5]Montague Rhodes James, Collected Ghost Stories (UK:


Wordsworth Classics, 1992)

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