Susan Owens: The Appearance of Ghosts

Ghosts – and especially their appearances in art and literature – offer a window on to “the great changes that, over time, have made us see the world in new ways”. The Reformation, the Enlightenment, the age of technology – all have shaped the development of ghosts, and look different when seen through a ghostly lens.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, ghosts dwelt in purgatory, hovering between heaven and hell, and so were able to warn the living of the dangers of sin at the same time as offering the promise of eventual redemption. This changed with the Reformation, when purgatory was officially abolished by the new Church of England.

Susan couldn’t come on Halloween, so you’ll have to bring your own pumpkins, ectoplasm, bells, books, candles etc. NB. No exorcisms before the end of the lecture.