Tag Archives: Halloween

Witches, Charms & Rituals: Top Titles With Spirit For Your Halloween List

Trick or treat? That depends on your reading list…

This week, we’re counting down to Halloween with spirited titles on everything from ghosts to witchcraft to Canadian horror films. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites – just in case you want a couple of treats for your shelf.

Ghostly Landscapes: Film, Photography, and the Aesthetics of Haunting in Contemporary Spanish Culture

“To speak of ghosts is to always speak of a loss that returns. Loss can tell us something not only about the distant past but also how we live in the present and imagine the future.”

Revisit twentieth-century Spanish history through the camera lens. Ghostly Landscapes reveals how haunting serves to mourn loss, redefine space and history, and confirm the significance of lives and stories previously hidden or erased. A significant re-evaluation of fascist and post-fascist Spanish visual culture from Patricia Keller.

The Canadian Horror Film: Terrors of the Soul

Welcome to a wasteland of docile damnation and prosaic pestilence where savage beasts and mad scientists rub elbows with pasty suburbanites, grumpy seamen, and baby-faced porn stars.

Highlighting more than a century of Canadian horror filmmaking, The Canadian Horror Film offers a series of thought-provoking reflections that promises to guide both scholars and enthusiasts alike. Unearth the terrors hidden in the recesses of the Canadian psyche from editors Gina Freitag and André Loiselle.

Magic in Medieval Manuscripts

Exploring the place of magic in the medieval world through an exploration of images and texts in British Library manuscripts, Sophie Page reveals a fascination with the points of contact between this and the celestial and infernal realms. Find magicians, wisewomen, witches, charms, and rituals in Magic in Medieval Manuscripts.

Ghostly Paradoxes: Modern Spiritualism and Russian Culture in the Age of Realism

“The spiritualist trend played a significant role in the ideological and social life of the realist age. The reality of the soul was a major issue of the time. Physicists, physiologists, theologians, mystics, and, of course, writers all took part in this debate.”

Surprisingly, nineteenth-century Russia was consumed with a passion for activities such as séances and summoning the spirits. Ghostly Paradoxes examines the relationship between spiritualist beliefs and the mindset of the Russian Age of Realism. Newly released in paperback – now that’s a treat!

Awful Parenthesis: Suspension and the Sublime in Romantic and Victorian Poetry

“Suspension rejects the impulse to cling to the known and the knowable.”

Whether the rapt trances of Romanticism or the corpse-like figures that confounded Victorian science and religion, Awful Parenthesis reveals that depictions of bodies in suspended animation are a response to an expanding, incoherent world in crisis. Examining various aesthetics of suspension in the works of poets such as Coleridge, Shelley, Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti, Anne McCarthy shares important insights into the nineteenth-century fascination with the sublime.

European Magic and Witchcraft: A Reader

“Those who have picked up this book are about to fly through a mirror, back through time, and look down upon an unfamiliar terrain.”

What’s really behind our fascination with magic and witchcraft? Editor Martha Rampton demonstrates how understandings of magic changed over time, and how these were influenced by factors such as religion, science, and law. By engaging with a full spectrum of source types, learn how magic was understood through the medieval and early modern eras.

Astrology in Medieval Manuscripts 

Medieval astrologers, though sometimes feared to be magicians in league with demons, were usually revered by scholars whose ideas and practices were widely respected. Explore the dazzling complexity of western astrology and its place in society, as revealed by a wealth of illustrated manuscripts from the British Library’s rich medieval collections.


Studies in Spookiness

With Halloween fast approaching, this time of year lends itself to all things mysterious, frightening, and downright weird. To put you in the spookiest of moods, here are some hair-raising titles from UTP.

If murders and mysteries are your thing:

  • In The Lazier Murder, Robert J. Sharpe reconstructs a bungled robbery at a Prince Edward County farmhouse in December 1883, that resulted in Peter Lazier’s death, using archival and contemporary newspaper accounts.
  • In 1895, two men were shot and killed in the office of the Montreal Cotton Company in Valleyfield, Quebec. A third victim, shot in the head, managed to survive. A young man, Valentine Shortis, was charged with the murders; his trial was the longest on record at that time in Canada. Martin Friedland vividly reconstructs one of the most dramatic criminal cases in Canadian history in The Case of Valentine Shortis.
  • Why are ‘whodunnits’ so fascinating? In Mayhem and Murder, Heta Pyrhönen, investigates the detective genre through analysis of works by Conan Doyle and Chesterton to Borges and Rendell.

If monsters have you running scared, then these books are for you:

  • Between 1550 and 1650, Europe was swept by a fascination with wondrous accounts of monsters and other marvels – of valiant men slaying dragons, women giving birth to animals, young girls growing penises, and all manner of fantastic phenomena. This fascination with the marvellous also extended to the worlds of science, medicine, philosophy, and religion, and many treatises from the period focused on discussions of monsters, demons, magic, and witchcraft. In Fairy-Tale Science Suzanne Magnanini looks at these ‘science fictions’ and explores the birth and evolution of the literary fairy tale in the context of early modern discourses on the monstrous.
  • Bettina Bildhauer and Robert Mills explore literal and metaphorical monsters from the Middle Ages in The Monstrous Middle Ages.
  • The Anglo-Saxons were haunted by the idea of monsters and the monstrous. In Pride and Prodigies, Andy Orchard traces the evolution of the Anglo-Saxon attitude towards monsters in Beowulf.

If witchcraft and magic enchant you:

  • Elliot Rose’s 1962 book A Razor for a Goat is a classic study and excellent survey of the literature and history of witchcraft. Rose surveys witch-scares, fairy folklore, ‘ritual’ deaths, the Canon Episcopi, and goliards for evidence for witchcraft, and to make some suggestions about the reality behind the popular beliefs on witchcraft societies and Sabbats.
  • Exorcism and demonic possession have been the topics of works by some of the most famous of writers, from Shakespeare to Cervantes. In Exorcism and Its Texts, Hilaire Kallendorf follows the representation of exorcism from the comic to the tragic drama, its paradigms and meanings.
  • What was the place of magic in the medieval world? Sophie Page’s Magic in Medieval Manuscripts looks at representations of magic in Medieval manuscripts; these range from representations of the magician, wise-woman and witch, to charms against lightning, wax images for inciting love, and diagrams to find treasure. Whether expressions of piety, ambition, or daring, these rituals reveal a medieval fascination with the points of contact between this world and the celestial and infernal realms.

Other spooky reads:

  • Imagine being disturbed on your wedding night by a group of loud neighbours, demanding treats or money, or pulling pranks. This custom, known as a charivari, is an English Canadian tradition has made some mysterious transformations over the decades of its performance. Read more about this trick-or-treat custom in Pauline Greenhill’s Make the Night Hideous.
  • ‘Bluebeard’ is the tale of a sadistic husband who murders his wives and locks away their bodies. In Bluebeard Gothic, Heta Pyrhönen links this tale with Jane Eyre, tracing the parallels between horrifying fairy tale and Gothic romance.

Hope these titles get your spine tingling! Happy Halloween!