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Putting the Supernatural in Its Place
Folklore, the Hypermodern, and the Ethereal
Edited by Jeannie Banks Thomas
Just exactly where do we find the supernatural in the contemporary world? It’s both pervasive—everywhere— and specific—a particular somewhere. Otherworldly traditions and stories still spread through oral narration. They pervade mass media and the digital world and often form the stuff of hypermodern folklore—the stew of folk, popular, consumer, and digital culture that constitutes much of contemporary life. People also imbue specific places—from the local haunted house or cemetery to whole towns or cities—with supernatural manifestations or significance.
Putting the Supernatural in Its Place explores zombies, vampires, witches, demented nuns, mediums, and ghosts in their natural (and unnatural) habitats while making sense of the current ubiquity of the supernatural on the Internet, in movies, tourism, and in places like New Orleans. This unique study of how we locate the supernatural sheds light on why certain sites and their stories captivate us. It demonstrates how pondering the supernatural can bring a better understanding of the places we create and inhabit.
Jeannie Banks Thomas is a professor at Utah State University, where she is head of the Department of English. Her many publications include Featherless Chickens, Laughing Women, and Serious Stories, which received the Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prize, and Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore (2007), coauthored with Diane Goldstein and Sylvia Grider, which won the Brian McConnell Book Award in legend studies.
Table of Contents:
List of Figures
Introduction – Jeannie Banks Thomas
1. The Lalaurie Haunted House, Ghosts, and Slavery:New Orleans, Louisiana – Frank de Caro
2. Which Witch is Witch?:Salem, Massachusetts – Jeannie Banks Thomas
3. Tradition and the International Zombie Film:The Movies –Mikel J. Koven
4. Twihards, Buffistas, and Vampire Fanlore:The Internet – Lynne S. McNeill
5. Legend Quests and the Curious Case of St. Ann’s Retreat:The Performative Landscape – Lisa Gabbert
6. Messages from the Dead:Lily Dale, New York – Elizabeth Tucker
7. The Haunted Asian Landscapes of Lafcadio Hearn:Old Japan – Bill Ellis
About the Contributors
Praise and Reviews:
“A fine collection of articles exploring the tension between the ethereal and the firmly local in supernatural folklore. The scholarship is up to the minute, and the approach is engaging enough to invite any reader fascinated by the allure of the inexplicably spooky.”
—Erika Brady, editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Folklore
“This book is a feast.”
—Association for Mormon Letters
“Brings together a number of different perspectives on the relationship between contemporary legend scholarship and place, exploring the ways in which the hypermodern world is examined through localized encounters with the supernatural. These essays could find a valuable place in a course on contemporary legend or American folklore.”
—Journal of Folklore Research