Supernatural Cities: Narrated Geographies and Spectral Histories

4Port Towns and Urban Culture’s Dr Karl Bell has launched a new project based at the University of Portsmouth entitled Supernatural Cities: Narrated Geographies and Spectral Histories.

The project seeks to encourage the formation of a multi- and interdisciplinary network of researchers who will explore the relationships between urban environments, the supernatural, and the cultural and communal construction, negotiation, and meaning of urban spaces and places. Drawing upon diverse perspectives and methodologies, it seeks to investigate, both around the world and in various fictional forms, historical and contemporary notions of the following;

  • Urban heterotopias
  • Otherness
  • Haunting
  • Estranging
  • The uncanny
  • Enchantment
  • Affective geographies
  • Communal memory
  • Urban legends and folklore
  • The urban fantastical

3The project is seeking potential collaborators and partners, with scope to explore the above from ancient Carthage to twenty-first century Shanghai. In doing so it aims to promote and contribute to a constructive dialogue between urban historians, cultural geographers, folklorists, social psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and scholars of urban gothic, urban fantasy, and weird literature.

The project also intends to reach beyond the confines of academia to work with both creative practitioners and local urban communities. Through this broad engagement the project aims to enhance our understanding of the affective urban environment and the historical and socio-psychological nature of urban mentalities. It will also enrich our appreciation of the cartographies of feeling, fantasy, memory and imagination within cities, giving particular attention to the function of narratives within that context.

This network will work towards a broad range of outputs and activities including; collaborative funding bids, international conferences, a seminar series, public lectures, community workshops and art projects, a website and possibly the creation of mobile applications, and a variety of publications.

1The first of many events for the project will be held in the atmospheric setting of the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth on the 22nd April 2015, 7:30pm. The event will launch a crowd sourcing research initiative that will involve the gathering, collating and eventual presentation of local supernatural accounts in Portsmouth, old and new. For further details, click here

Potential collaborators, partners and interested parties are actively encouraged to contact Dr Karl Bell at or @imaginetheurban

Further details on the project can be found here and you can follow the project on Twitter @imaginetheurban #imaginetheurban

To find out more about Dr Karl Bell, click here


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