CFP – Tales of Terror conference

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By Emily Paterson-Morgan


University of Warwick, 15-16th December 2022

“Horrors belong as naturally to the fireside, as fireside belongs to Christmas” declares the narrator of the
piece “Fireside Horrors for Christmas” in the December 1847 issue of Dublin University Magazine. This
image of “popular fireside stories or winter’s tales” exchanged in communal settings had, as the late
Catherine Belsey explained, a “long vernacular tradition” (2010). Furthermore, it was, she argues, a
practice that often-challenged orthodox institutional discourse about, for example, the “true meaning” of
Christmas or the origins of ghosts and tapped into secular and “pagan” rituals and practices. The later
transference of this hearth-side image into textual and visual print, not only as content, but as collective
reading activities has helped immortalise Winter and/or Christmas and the Gothic as ideal bedfellows, not
only in Western cultures but in the wider global imagination. Periodicals of the nineteenth-century such
as Household Words, Belgravia, and The Strand capitalised on the wider Christmas market and the desire
for ghost stories in their specific Christmas Numbers including accompanying illustrations, while an
increasing number of collections and anthologies began to emerge and have remained extremely popular
gifts, from collections of Dickens’s Christmas ghost stories, to Edward Wagenknecht’s 1947 anthology
The Fireside Book of Ghost …read more