Call for papers RGS-IBG 2022: Progress in Literary Geography 

I am organising an online session at this year’s Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) Annual Conference with Milena Morozova (Moscow State University). The conference will be at Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, from Tuesday 30th August to Friday 2nd September 2022.  

Please see the call for papers below and submit abstracts to both session organisers by Friday 18th March 2022.


Call for papers RGS-IBG 2022: Progress in Literary Geography 

Session organisers: James Thurgill (The University of Tokyo) and Milena Morozova (Moscow State University). 

Literary geography, an interdiscipline with deep roots in the history of social and cultural geography, is currently experiencing a period of renewal and innovation. With the Open Access journal Literary Geographies now in its seventh year of publication, the New Critical Idiom volume Literary Geography coming out in May 2022, and a new book series just launched with the University of Wales Press, literary geography is clearly undergoing something of a renaissance. 

Recent efforts to establish an interdiscipline-specific terminology for literary geography have contributed to ongoing theoretical development in this area of geographical knowledge. In particular, new work in literary geography is looking to question the perceived division between actual-world and literary space taken for granted in much existing geographical work. Thurgill’s concept of the ‘spatial-hinge’ (2021) and the theory of ‘interspatiality’ (Hones 2022, forthcoming), for example, both argue for a rethinking of literary/actual-world divisions.  

Taken together, innovation in the theory and practice of literary geography and the developing terminology specific to the interdiscipline allow scholars to articulate more precisely the workings of a ‘relational literary geography’ (Saunders and Anderson 2015) in which readers, authors, editors, publishers, places, and other actants collaborate in the spatialised production of the text. Rooted in both the relational geography of the last thirty or so years (Massey 1991; Harvey 1996; Murdoch 2005) and the conceptualization of the ‘text as a spatial event’ (Hones 2008), relational literary geography has been used to demonstrate how texts both produce and are produced by a series of interconnected spatial relations, resulting in an increasing number of engagements with intra-, inter- and extratextual geographies, the myriad spatial agents involved in their production, and the affectual experiences they afford.  

Complementing these relational approaches, McLaughlin’s (in press) repurposing of enchantment theory to discuss the way readers map and experience a geography external to but not separated from the text and Ridenpää’s (2018) examination of metafictive geography and GIS in the blurring of spatial fact and fiction further develop the theoretical scope of literary geography and demonstrate the breadth and depth of topics being addressed in the interdiscipline.  

To this end, we seek to attract papers that actively engage with current theoretical and methodological trends in literary geography and advance the ways in which we might conceptually frame, literally map, and visualise literary-geographical space.  

We invite papers which engage with current theory and practice in literary geography, inclusive of but not limited to: 

  • Relational literary geography 
  • The text-as-spatial-event 
  • The ‘spatial hinge’ 
  • Interspatiality 
  • Terminology in literary geography 
  • Literature and spatial identity 
  • Metafictive geography 
  • Texts, regions, localities 
  • Conceptualizing literary regions and zones 
  • Literary memorialization 

Please send abstracts of c.200 words to both James Thurgill ( and Milena Morozova ( by Friday 18th March 2022. We will notify submitters of our decision by Monday 21st March. 


Harvey, D. (1996) Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference. Blackwell. 

Hones, S. (2008) ‘Text as It Happens: Literary Geography.’ Geography Compass, 2(5), pp. 1301- 1317. 

Hones, S. (2022) ‘Interspatiality.’ Literary Geographies, 8(1), forthcoming. 

McLaughlin, D. (in press) ‘Mapping enchanted landscapes in Philip Weller’s The Dartmoor of The Hound of the Baskervilles.’ Cultural Geographies.  

Massey, D. (1991) ‘A global sense of place.’ Marxism Today, June 1991, 24–9. 

Murdoch, J. (2005) Post-structuralist Geography: A Guide to Relational Space. Sage Publications. 

Ridenpää, J. (2018) ‘Fact and Fiction: Metafictive Geography and Literary GIS.’ Literary Geographies, 4(2), 141–145.  

Saunders, A. and Anderson, J. (2015) ‘Relational Literary Geographies: Producing Page and Place.’ Literary Geographies, 1(2), 115–119. 

Thurgill. J. (2021) ‘Literary Geography and The Spatial Hinge.’ Literary Geographies, 7(2), 152–156. 


Upcoming Event: March 29th 2022, 2-4pm (JST)

I will be taking part in a public review and discussion of A Todai Philosophical Walk on March 29th (2-4pm JST) as part of The University of Tokyo’s East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts events series. This online event is the 7th meeting of the “Room and Space” research cluster and the 8th EAA book review seminar. Speakers include my co-author Mr. Mon Madomitsu and Professor Seitaro Maeno. The event will be chaired by Professor Yuki Tanaka.

You can register for the event via the QR code included in the flyer above.

New Book:   サーギル博士と巡る 東大哲学散歩: 場の地理学的解釈に向けて/ A Todai Philosophical Walk with Dr. Thurgill: Towards a Geographical Interpretation of Place (Seeds Planning, 2022) 

I’m very excited to announce the release of my new book A Todai Philosophical Walk with Dr. Thurgill: Towards a Geographical Interpretation of Place (サーギル博士と巡る 東大哲学散歩: 場の地理学的解釈に向けて), co-authored with Mon Madomitsu. The text is available as a dual language edition (English and Japanese) published by Tokyo’s Seeds Planning Press with editorial assistance provided by The University of Tokyo’s Todai Shimbun.

A Todai Philosophical Walk features a collection of interviews and essays that offer cultural geographical engagements with some of The University of Tokyo’s most iconic buildings. Themes range from memory and history to folklore and narrative, with each chapter exploring a different campus space in an accessible and practical way. The text incorporates a number of articles previously published in the Todai Shimbun, now expanded and updated, as well as original material created specifically for this volume. The book is the outcome of a two-year collaboration with Mon Madomitsu, student reporter for the Todai Shimbun and a senior in political science at the Faculty of Law, The University of Tokyo.

Available online at the usual places as well at brick-and mortar-stores (Japan only) (Kinokuniya Books, Maruzen-Junkudo, etc.)


Envisioning Worlds: on the importance of geographic thinking

A Todai Philosophical Walk with Dr. Thurgill
1. Akamon, Hongo Campus

2. Sanshiro Pond, Hongo Campus

3. Building 1, Komaba Campus

4. General Library, Hongo Campus

5. Komaba Pond, Komaba Campus

6. The Mathematics Building, Komaba Campus

7. Online Classes

8. Online Space

Special Interview: Global Space Under COVID-19

Lockdown Vibes Exhibition, 9/10 – 6/11 2021 @ Nachladen (Hamburg, DE)

I’m very to excited have my photographic work included in the upcoming “Lockdown Vibes” exhibition at Nachladen, Hamburg (DE). The exhibition, curated by German author and editor, Karin Elisabeth, features entries from across the globe in an attempt to reflect the various ways in which the pandemic has been experienced, embodied and interpreted differently by individuals living in various geographic regions.

A small riso print publication featuring works and text by the artists as well a number of other creatives will be produced to accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition will run from 9th October to 6th November 2021.

For more information on opening times, access, etc., please see the venue’s website.

The Geographies of Folk Horror: from the Strange Rural to the Urban Wyrd


Together with Julian Holloway (Manchester Metropolitan University), I have co-organised a session on The Geographies of Folk Horror for this year’s RGS-IBG Annual Conference, to be held at the Royal Geographical Society, London, 27-30th August 2019.

The session will be held on Thursday 29th August and features the following papers and speakers:

  1. ‘On the Geographies of Folk Horror’, James Thurgill (The University of Tokyo, Japan).
  2. Julian Holloway (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  3. ‘“Wraith-like is this native stone”: folklore, folk horror and archaeological landscapes’, Katy Soar (University of Winchester, UK)
  4. ‘Horror in (English) Folk Music and the Rise of Eco-Horror as a new Theme’,
    Owain Jones (Bath Spa University, UK)



1. On the Geographies of Folk Horror, James Thurgill (The University of Tokyo, Japan).

Since the turn of the new millennium, the humanities have undergone a growing engagement with themes of absence, monstrosity, spectrality and, more broadly, the supernatural in its various guises. Human geography too has seen a number of scholars turning to the ghostly, occult and magical in their analyses of  spirituality, place and experience. A more recent development that has emerged from these earlier explorations of the strange and uncanny has been the retrospective coining of ‘Folk Horror’, a strain of horror based largely on (mis)representations of pastoral geographies and the people who inhabit them as menacing, malevolent and anti-modern.

In its numerous associated films and texts, Folk Horror has sought to complicate the relations between people and places, offering a horror almost entirely reliant upon the destabilising of the worlds in which its characters (and audience) dwell, often utilising a sense of dread that emerges from beneath the earth itself. In doing so, the fear and the threat that Folk Horror has traditionally evoked has been one derived from the deliberate manipulation of the boundaries ordinarily thought to exist between nature and culture, people and places. Human, non-human and more-than-human actants come together to alter, disturb and delineate space and time.

While Folk Horror’s texts undoubtedly depict, challenge and problematise all sorts of spaces and environments, including the city via the lens of the Urban Wyrd, geographers have almost entirely neglected the genre and its cinematic, literary and sonic outputs in their analyses of popular representations of geography. This paper offers an overview of the geographies of Folk Horror and considers the genre’s ongoing contribution to the popular geographic imagination.

2. Sounding Folk Horror and the Strange Rural, Julian Holloway (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

For the most part, the recent interest in all things Folk Horror has been dominated by the visual and the textual. Less documented is the role that folk horror tropes and meanings play in music and sound. This paper seeks to redress this imbalance by thinking through how we might understand folk horror as something sonically articulated and musically constructed. In so doing, exploring the sound of folk horror is often less about representation and more about atmospheres, expressed worlds and certain imaginative geographies. The paper seeks to chart these atmospheres and imagined spaces through examples from a variety of musical and sound artists who variously sonically practice the strange and disturbing rural. These works allow us to consider the role of the landscape itself, affective registers of the eerie, uncertainty and the acousmatic, in the production of folk horror sonics and musical worlds.

3. “Wraith-like is this native stone”: folklore, folk horror and archaeological landscapes, Katy Soar (University of Winchester, UK)

Archaeological monuments and landscapes have long loomed large in the popular imagination, creating as they do impressions of deep temporality, of lingering hint of things broader, deeper, and more ancient than ourselves, which often translates into a sense of unease, or eeriness, if not outright fear. These impressions often manifest through storytelling: traditional folk stories that develop around monuments such as Neolithic stone circles, henges and long barrows talk of petrification, giants and devils. Alternatively, many horror writers of the 19th and early 20th century locate their tales of terrors directly in the archaeological.

What binds these stories together – those of folklore and those of folk horror – is an understanding of the past not as a static entity but as something real, lurking below the surface and waiting to be unleashed. Archaeological monuments act as survivals, physical manifestations of a remote, otherworldly past that is still connected with the present. This paper will consider these narratives of fear which surround archaeological sites by examining both traditional folkloric motifs and the folk horror elements of writers such as M.R. James, Arthur Machen and Sarban. These ‘native stones’, it will be argued, appear ‘wraith like’ because of their ability to destabilise the boundaries of present and past. However, this also allows us to consider how these narratives reflect contemporary understandings of antiquarianism and archaeology as well as contemporary anxieties regarding our place in the world.

4. Horror in (English) Folk Music and the Rise of Eco-Horror as a new Theme, Owain Jones (Bath Spa University, UK) 

If Folk Horror has grown in recent decades – it should be remembered that (rural) horror, of one type or another, has long been a staple narrative of folk music. Ghost stories abound in folk song, and weave themes of murder, adultery, betrayals, lost loves, rejected loves, bitter disputes over race, money and property, poverty, into supernatural yarns of the returning dead, of haunted places and landscapes, of fear, longing and suffering. These were songs of, and from, the conditions of the common people rendered supernatural. Some of these narratives, many of them residing in the great song collections such as Cecil Sharp, will have sustained in form for many centuries. They are predominantly rural in setting as they were born of an overwhelmingly agrarian society. They are now being reinterpreted by a new generation of folk artists such as Jim Moray and the Unthanks, often urban located artists, and consumed in urban settings. This longevity is testament to the enduring power of such tales and the melodies they are told through. Citing a number of specific songs, such as the terrifying “Long Lankin”, this paper looks back at this tradition of (rural) folk horror and then explores how new conditions of the common people, such as the horrors of climate change, pollution, and species extinction, are entering the folk music cannon, and speculates on whether they can have similar force as the older enduring narratives of human life, suffering and death, and their shifting rural/urban provenance.

Folk Horror in the 21st Century

I’m pleased to announce that I will be delivering a paper at Folk Horror in the 21st Century, a two-day international conference to be held at University of Falmouth, UK, 5-6th September 2019. The conference has been organised by Ruth Heholt (Falmouth University, UK), Dawn Keetley (Lehigh University, USA), Joanne Parsons (Bath Spa University, UK), and David Devanny (Falmouth University).

I’ll be discussing the nature of geography in Folk Horror,  placing a particular emphasis  on the spatial nature of the eerie.

The abstract for my paper can be found below:

Locating the Eerie: Towards a Geography of Folk Horror

In recent years, “the eerie” has gained traction among scholars attempting to describe the strange ambiguity that pervades representations of landscape in Folk Horror. However, the specifics of the eerie have been left largely undefined, particularly with regard to the spatial conditions from which the production of the eerie emerges. While Mark Fisher’s (2016) treatment of the eerie provides a useful foundation for working with the term, positioning the failure of presence and absence as a basis on which the eerie might come into being, the work fails to consider the spatial underpinnings of the concept or its impact on the geographic imagination.

The eerie offers a language through which we might locate and deconstruct those geographies outside the realms of quotidian experience and which are central to Folk Horror – edgelands, margins, borders, abandoned buildings, coastlines, ruins, woodland – and speaks to a wider discourse on affectual encounters with place.The uneasiness that Folk Horror affords its audience is bound up with the representation and reproduction of spaces perceived to be eerie, frequently depicting the strangeness of geographies of a predominantly rural character: spaces that are often simultaneously distant and familiar in the minds of the audience.

This paper sets out to examine the spatial foundations of the eerie in the production of Folk Horror, considering the function and co-dependency of presence and absence in the destabilising of the folk-horrific landscape and the strange affectual qualities of its contingent geographies. Taking Fisher’s application of the eerie to M.R. James’ writings in The Weird and The Eerie (2016) as a prompt for an enquiry into the spatial uncanny, this paper aims to foster a dialogue between geography and Folk Horror, considering how the spaces of the latter might be conceptualised and mapped out in geographic terms.

*Fisher, M. (2016) The Weird and The Eerie. London: Repeater Books.

Un/Mapping Sacrality in Kamakura: Towards a (Meaningful) Spiritual Cartography

I have a (short) paper on walking, un/mapping and sacrality in Livingmaps Review’s ‘Lines of Desire’ section. All content is open access and can be found here.

Un/Mapping Sacrality in Kamakura: Towards a (Meaningful) Spiritual Cartography

Abstract: This short auto-ethnographic paper seeks to examine the tension between meaning and encounter in the spiritual experience. Taking Japan’s historic coastal capital of Kamakura as a site for analysis, I problematise the practice of mapping sacred sites for economic gain and argue for the importance of counter methods in seeking out individual attachments to place. Whilst mapping and walking play a significant role in the touristic experience of Kamakura, with both actively promoted by the local government, the scale of visitation at the city’s sites of spiritual interest further complicates the potential to have meaningful encounters with place. This article works to demonstrate a process of un/mapping, whereby the identification and navigation of cartographic absences can lead to a more enriched experience of place and a redefining of its spiritual attributes.

Manchester Folk Horror Festival II

screen shot 2019-01-16 at 17.00.41

I’m very grateful to Dr. Julian Holloway (Manchester Metropolitan University) for inviting me to join a panel he’s organised for the second Manchester Folk Horror Festival next month.

“The Manchester Folk Horror Festival returns, this year taking in a host of new and interesting participants. There’s a slightly more hauntological bent to the music, some real surprises and a host of independent films.

The festival will take place on 2 February 2019 at Northern Quarter venues The Peer Hat and Aatma, 14-16 Faraday Street, Manchester. Live performances will start at 3pm and film screenings will start at 6:30pm. Tickets are £10 plus booking fee (unless purchased on the door) and limited to 222.

The current folk horror revival in British cinema, reflects a wider trend of re-discovery and re-enchantment. The Peer Hat will be looking to reflect this phenomenon, with not just a programme of music and film, but also activities and workshops.” (Taken from the MMU webpage – see below for link).

Speakers/Artists confirmed so far:

*** Panel ***

Andrew Michael Hurley (novelist and author)

Chloé Germaine Buckley (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Darren Charles (Folk Horror Revival)

James Thurgill (The University of Tokyo)

Julian Holloway (Manchester Metropolitan University) (*Chair)

Lonelady (artist)

Morag Rose (Loiterer’s Resistance Movement and University of Liverpool)

*** Performances ***








The festival will also feature strange life drawing, films and a ritual.

Full details of the event schedule and location, as well as ticketing information, can be found on the Manchester Folk Horror Festival and Manchester Metropolitan University websites

Call for Papers: The Geographies of Folk Horror: from the Strange Rural to the Urban Wyrd

Call for Papers: RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2019, 28th August – 30th August 2019, London 

The Geographies of Folk Horror: from the Strange Rural to the Urban Wyrd

Session organised by Julian Holloway (Manchester Metropolitan University) and James Thurgill (The University of Tokyo)

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 13.03.25

Over approximately the last decade, Folk Horror has seen increasing popularity in films, blogs, books and on internet fan pages. Folk Horror concerns itself with marginal and liminal landscapes that in various ways are active in the production of the horrific. Folk Horror’s landscapes are predominantly rural, coding the countryside as oppositional to modernity and capable of hosting ancient secrets ready to be revived or unearthed to the terror of the outsider. Folk Horror’s texts and practices revel in the idea that underneath the superficial solitude of the pastoral, malevolent forces work to promote acts of unspeakable violence. Beyond the landscape itself, the ‘folk’ of Folk Horror also deliver a sense of disquiet: its communities, with their forgotten or erased practices and rituals are central to the horrific, often committing atrocities themselves in order to satisfy the lore that protects the land.

The reach of Folk Horror arguably extends beyond the rural through the Urban Wyrd, wherein the cracks in the sheen of the cosmopolitan urban let forth the ghosts of occluded pasts and disturbing practices. This session therefore seeks to bring together those interested in Folk Horror, the Strange Rural, the Gothic countryside or the Urban Wyrd.

Papers are invited on the following non-exhaustive list of topics:

  • Defining and characterising Folk Horror geographies.
  • Representing the rural in Folk Horror.
  • The cultural politics of Folk Horror and its geographies.
  • The folk of Folk Horror.
  • The horror of Folk Horror, its affects and atmospheres.
  • Survivals, remnants and the place of time in Folk Horror.
  • The ‘revival’ in interest in Folk Horror, its significance and implications.
  • Living with and in the ‘Strange Rural’.
  • Geographies of Folk Horror beyond the rural – the Urban Wyrd.
  • Hauntology and Folk Horror.
  • Psychogeography and Folk Horror.
  • Folk Horror and Nationhood.
  • Soundscaping Folk Horror and Wyrd Folk music.
  • Geographic readings of contemporary Folk Horror films, fiction, art and craft practices.

Please send abstracts of c.300 words to both session organisers Julian Holloway ( and James Thurgill ( by Thursday 31st January 2019.

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