Monthly Archives: December 2019

Parergon 36.2 Preview: Myth, Reality and Revelation: The Performance of Divine Power on Dartmoor

We asked contributors to the current issue of Parergon to give us some additional insights into their research and the inspirations for their articles. In this post, David C. Harvey, Associate Professor in Critical Heritage Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark, discusses the article he co-wrote with Joanne Parker, Associate Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture at the University of Exeter, UK: ‘Myth, Reality and Revelation: The Performance of Divine Power on Dartmoor’. DOI: 10.1353/pgn.2019.0056

Just a few weeks after I first came to Exeter University as an undergraduate student in October 1988, I remember being taken by Vic Ambler, the Warden of the St Lukes Hall of Residence, for an evening walk to Dartmoor. We got dropped off near Challacombe, and walked via Grimspound, the Headland Warren and Bennett’s Cross to the Warren House Inn. Just before we reached the pub, we walked past the Devil’s Playing Cards; four mysteriously shaped fields laid out on the hillside, in the shape of the four suits of a deck of playing cards. I remember Vic telling a story about how these got their name: that during a Great Storm, the Devil crashed through the roof of the Church at nearby Widecombe-in-the-Moor and carried off a man called Jan Reynolds who was playing cards at the back of the Church. As he flew across the moor, Jan dropped the four aces that he had up his sleeve and they fell to earth as four enclosures. I squinted at the hillside – OK; I could pick out the Diamond quite clearly… perhaps the Heart; but one needed to have a bit more imagination to make out the Club and the Spade. It was a good story – though I would have thought that the Devil would have been happy with someone playing cards at the back of a Church Service?

The walk, across Hameldown, between Widecombe and Warren House is one of my favourites, and the legend about the Devil is a nice story to impress visitors. It might even place me as a ‘local’, or at least as someone who ‘knows’ the Dartmoor landscape. Over the following years, I became more and more familiar with Dartmoor and its legends; lots about the Devil, many about ‘hauntings’, and a good few about environmental hazards – deep bogs or terrible storms. Indeed, there’s a story about a ‘Great Storm’ of 1638, written up on a series of tablets in the Nave of Widecombe Church, in which several people were killed – victims of God’s Judgement. I vaguely realised that the Devilish Legend about the Playing Cards was referring to the same storm event as the tragedy of 1638 in Widecombe, but never really followed up on how and why the two stories were connected.

In the Autumn of 2013, I was to run a 3rd year day field trip to Dartmoor to talk about landscape history and archaeology. The Headland Warren, Bennett’s Cross and the Devil’s Playing Cards was an obvious destination to take a group of third years in the Autumn Term of 2013, and all my Landscape Knowledge or Lore comes into its own when running such a student field trip. The legend of the Devil will be memorable for the students – just as it was for myself in 1988 – and if that helps to instil the ‘factual’ elements of landscape history, then all the better. On Friday 18th October 2013, I led a group of 35 students up to Dartmoor, as part of the Undergraduate Level 3 ‘Geographies of Heritage and Memory’ module within the Geography Department at Exeter.

I wrote a blog about this field trip here – and was struck by the juxtaposition of the two stories about the ‘Great Storm’. Of course, the students also asked some tricky questions – surely, they ask me, the Devil should have been happy that people were playing cards in Church(!); and how come the figure of ‘God’ turned directly into the figure of the Devil. These loose ends needed tidying up….

I re-visited the Church at Widecombe and took some photos of the tablets on the wall of the Nave. This story was very clear – that it was God that brought on the Great Storm and God’s Judgement that carried off several parishioners.

I also began talking to my colleague in the English Department, Joanne Parker, who had previously written about Dartmoor stories and legends. We had been working together within the ‘Past-Place’ research team, at Exeter, and so the idea of producing a ‘life history’ of storytelling associated with an event such as the Great Storm took hold.

Together, we started to patch together the accounts of the Great Storm, of October 1638, from the first pamphlet publications only a couple of weeks after, through renditions in poetic and prose form during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and to their re-deployment in tourist legend in the 19th and 20th centuries. The first accounts of the event appeared in London in November 1638, and in this version, the storm is very much associated with God’s Judgement – though we also found the vestiges of some quasi-scientific reflection and interest. The Devil gets a mention in the 18th century, but only starts to dominate the accounts in the 19th century – which is the point at which the stone enclosures (the Devil’s Playing Cards) near the Warren House Inn enter the scene.

Just as my imagination was captivated in 1988 – and just as I have recounted it to many visitors in the last 30 years – the legend of the Devil has good currency through which to support ‘insider’ credentials. In some ways, its slightly comical and clearly mythical nature provides a gloss of specifically ‘local’ landscape knowledge. It is a story of ‘place making practice’, both over the last 380 years over which the legends have been circulated, and also the 30 years over which I have been telling the stories myself – as a ‘professional landscape historian’. And over the last 6 years, the blog on a WordPress site has now become a published journal article!

All images belong to the author.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit

Western Civilisation in the Twenty-First Century: Registration and Programme

A reminder that registration for the ANZAMEMS symposium ‘Western Civilisation in the Twenty-First Century’, held 20-21 February 2020 at the University of Adelaide, is open until 14 February. A provisional programme is now available here.

Registration is free via Eventbrite. All details can be found on the symposium website: 

New issue preview: Parergon 36.2

ANZAMEMS is delighted to advise researchers that the latest issue of the Association’s journal Parergon is now out. Special Issue 36.2, Practice, Performance and Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Heritage, guest-edited by Alicia Marchant and Jane-Héloïse Nancarrow, features 6 original research articles, a scholarly introduction, a special roundtable contribution, and over 50 book reviews.

ANZAMEMS members will receive print copies of Parergon 36.2 shortly, while digital content can be accessed via Project MUSE.

Here is a preview of the content available in the issue:

Introduction: Practice, Performance, and Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Heritage
Alicia Marchant, Jane-Héloïse Nancarrow

Between Realism and Re-enactment: Navigating Dramatic and Musical ‘Problems’ in Voyage to the Moon
Joseph Browning and Jane W. Davidson

How do practitioners understand the relationship between performance, history and emotion in Western art music? Based on an ethnographic study of a contemporary pasticcio opera, we take the rehearsal room as an important, yet often overlooked, site in which creative artists imagine and perform different relationships with their musical and cultural heritage. Focusing on the interplay between two performative modes, which we call realism and re-enactment, we describe how the creative team navigated various dramatic and musical challenges associated with the opera, generating a final production that was ambiguous and multi-layered in its
emotional registers and attitudes towards the past.

After Lives: Considering Disembodied Costume via Medieval Copes and Nick Cave’s Soundsuits
Janet Lee and Jo Merrey

Costuming a body for performance both defines and erases boundaries between performer and audience. Historically distinct and creatively oppositional, medieval copes and the soundsuits of contemporary artist Nick Cave work to transcend the everyday and reimagine the self. As the garment subsumes the wearer, the performer’s ‘translated’ presence engages the audience/viewer. But what of costume divested of performer? What is embodied in performance shifts in a costume’s museum afterlives. Postperformance costumes signal vacancy; an uncanny absence. Displacing the performer allows for the renegotiation between object and viewer. Tracememories of performance linger, reconfigured via the costume’s framing and circumstances of viewing.

Hidden Heritage: Concealment, Reuse, and Affective Performance in Historic Buildings and Digital Heritage
Jane-Héloïse Nancarrow

This article considers material heritage of the Middle Ages and early modern period which was deliberately obscured from public view, exploring this concept in light of concealed objects’ emotional impact and cultural meaning, the status of such objects as part of a ‘performance
of concealment’, and the role that concealment played in the creation of heritage. A series of architectural and smaller-scale digital heritage case studies articulate the complex ways that concealment shaped meaningful heritage narratives, both in the past and today—particularly as concealed material culture was often remediated or reused from other heritage settings.

Myth, Reality and Revelation: The Performance of Divine Power on Dartmoor
David C. Harvey and Joanne Parker

This article explores the nexus between the folk heritage of an unusual archaeological site, an early modern account of ‘ball lightning’, and the literary construction of an affective atmosphere. It examines how a violent storm in October 1638 provided a symbolic reservoir for narrative accounts of both the performance of God’s power and the Devil’s trickery, thereby
providing lessons for civil conduct alongside explanations of some unusual archaeological features. Tracing a biographical life history of how the storm has been remembered at different periods since the event, we chart how various narratives of landscape can unfold over several centuries.

Hearing Early Modern Battles: Soundscape Audio as a Way of Recreating the Past
Dolly MacKinnon

This article provides a model of analysis for examining museum exhibitions that specifically incorporate soundscapes for early modern battle histories: one is a local museum at Radway, England, that commemorated the Civil War Battle of Edgehill (1642), and the other is the National Museum of Scotland’s exhibition ʻBonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites’ that includes the 1745 rising that culminated in the Battle of Culloden (1746). Using film music diegesis, the article analyses the ways in which emotions are generated, performed and produced through soundscapes created for early modern battlefields in museums, demonstrating how gendered representations of the past can be overturned and democratized by soundscapes.

‘Three cheers to the old apple tree!’: Wassailing and the Affective Performance of Heritage
Alicia Marchant

The ancient practice of wassailing to apple trees has had global resurgence in recent years, including in Tasmania where it is performed at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest. First recorded at Fordwich (England) in 1585, wassailing is performed annually on Old Twelfth Night and involves a parading group moving noisily between orchards. Taking the Huon Valley wassail as a focus, I will examine the performative elements of the modern wassail, tracing a genealogy of practice, to ask: what happens when wassailing is transplanted to Tasmania? What sorts of ‘pasts’ are recalled, and what emotional work does the wassail performance do?

Parergon Roundtable
Future/s Medieval: Perspectives from the ANZAMEMS Community
Susan Broomhall, Andrew Lynch, Clare Monagle, Amanda Power, Helen Young, Louise D’Arcens, Lindsay Diggelmann, Chris Jones

This roundtable responds to the wide-ranging discussions within and beyond the ANZAMEMS community at present about the ways in which our field is currently being understood and used by those in the broader community, as well as how these developments may provoke new lines of enquiry within medieval and medievalism scholarship.

Members of our community, scholars of the medieval, were invited to contribute
short papers reflecting on new directions and pressure points for medieval studies.
These encompass considerations within the academy and as the medieval is
understood and employed beyond it, and indeed as these are in dialogue with each other.

Parergon welcomes article submissions on all aspects of medieval and early modern studies. We are especially interested in material that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries and takes new approaches. For more information and submission guidelines, visit the Parergon website.

CFP Taiwan Association of Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies

The Fourteenth International Conference of the Taiwan Association of Classical,
Medieval and Renaissance Studies (TACMRS)
23-24 October 2020, National Taiwan University, Taipei
Food: Sacrificial, Spiritual, and Secular

Food, whether secular or spiritual, physical or metaphysical, human or nonhuman, has
been an important issue throughout the history of this planet. Human history is a long
story of appetitive contest with nature and the environment, while consumption is an
empowering practice that involves struggle and sacrifice. The matter of food may
illuminate or complicate histories of labor, leisure, science, production, ethical
considerations, religious discourse and practices, and environmental concerns.

To explore the important issues of food/drink/consumption, this conference welcomes
papers from scholars working in all fields such as anthropology, geography, history,
literature, art, politics, sociology, religion, and cultural studies from the pre-modern to
the early modern periods. Topics for consideration might include (but are not limited

Art and Visualization of food/drink/consumption
Boundaries of the edible and nonedible
Critical explorations of food/drink/consumption
Culinary writings
Politics of food/drink/consumption
Religion, Heresy, or the Sacred Forms of food/drink/consumption
Food/drink/consumption and Fasting, Festivity, or Medicine
Food/drink/consumption and Emotions, Obsessions, or Language
Food/drink/consumption and Gender, Racial Identity, or Society
Food/drink/consumption and the Moralistic/Legislative
Food/drink/consumption and Ecology, Philosophy, or Theology
Food/drink/consumption and Medievalism or Technology

TACMRS warmly invites papers either in English or Chinese that reach beyond the
traditional chronological and disciplinary borders of Classical, Medieval, and Early
Modern Studies. This conference will comprise Paper sessions and a Roundtable
discussion for pedagogy. Paper proposals and sponsored panel proposals (with
individual paper abstracts) are welcomed. To ensure the quality of the papers
presented, the presenters should submit drafts of full papers by the end of August
2020. Selected full papers will be peer-reviewed and published in a special issue of

Please submit proposals (250 words for English, 500 words for Chinese) along
with a one-page CV to by 6 January 2020. The
Conference will take place on 23-24 October 2020 at National Taiwan University
in Taipei, Taiwan. There is no registration fee for the conference. Please note,
presenters should be members of TACMRS if they reside in Taiwan. Membership
application forms can be downloaded from the TACMRS website or via email upon
request. For more information, please visit the 2020 TACMRS Conference website at and the TACMRS website at

For more details see the attached CFP:

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Reminder: Medieval Latin and NT Greek Summer School

Enrolments are still open for summer schools in Medieval & Ecclesiastical Latin and New Testament Greek, held at Jane Franklin Hall, University of Tasmania, in January 2020.

1. Medieval Latin: 13-17 January 2020

This course will offer a general introduction to post-classical Latin, poetry and prose, sacred and secular. Some prior knowledge of Latin is recommended. There will be an introduction to palaeography, including an opportunity to handle original manuscripts. 2020 will be the 27th occurrence of this annual event!

2. New Testament Greek: 20-24 January 2020

An intensive course in the koine Greek of the New Testament. We shall read passages from the Epistles and Gospels, as well as the Septuagint and Christian literature of the apostolic age. The course is aimed at beginners, but it is strongly recommended that all learn the Greek alphabet before commencing; exercises will be posted out beforehand to assist in that.

Both January Summer Schools will be held at Jane Franklin Hall (a college of the University of Tasmania), 6 Elboden Street, South Hobart.

The instructor of both courses will be Dr David Daintree. The cost of each school is AU$300. This covers tuition and materials only. It is expected that self-catering accommodation will be available at the college as usual, though arrangements for that should be made directly with the college.

Write to David Daintree directly for further information – – or call him on +61 (0)408 879 494.

See attached flyers for course details. 

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CFP NonfictioNOW

Call for Panel Proposals: NonfictioNOW, 3-5 December 2020, Wellington, New Zealand

Please note NonfictioNOW is different from other conferences in that it seeks collective panel proposals rather than individual papers.  Please read through the entire CFP – this adds a layer of complexity but results in a very rewarding outcome.

We invite you to join us in New Zealand in 2020 to celebrate the return of NonfictioNOW to the Asia Pacific region. We are now seeking panel proposals for the conference, proudly hosted by Massey University and held at the Te Papa Tongarewa, the stunning harbour-side Museum of New Zealand. We warmly welcome participants and audiences from all over the globe to engage with and bring new ideas to our conversations. We are excited to have Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Mary Cappello confirmed as keynote speakers, with more announcements to come.

This celebrated bi-annual international event is unique: this isn’t a conventional academic conference nor a writers’ festival, but a lively conversation among peers. NonfictioNOW brings together well-established writers and those just starting out. We are especially interested in proposals for sessions that defy the expectations and/or subvert the format of the traditional conference or festival panel, as well as those that include a diverse group of participants, reflecting the inclusive and international nature of this gathering.

Many NonfictioNOW panels are lively, discursive, playful, and interactive events, as opposed to the reading of a succession of individual papers. We are enthusiastic about the great energy and range present in all of nonfiction’s many forms, including literary and political essays; memoir and journalism; digital media, graphic memoirs, and hybrid essays; performance-based work; ecological writing; podcasts; and other areas of the field. We hope to receive great proposals exploring the many different shapes of nonfiction, with variety and diversity serving to enlarge both the conversation and the nonfiction community.


Submissions are due March 31, 2020. All submissions must include a panel description (150 words or less, written as it should appear in the program, if accepted), a statement of merit (150 words or less), and the complete contact information for a minimum of three, and up to five, contacted and pre-selected panel participants, including a program-ready bio of 50 words or less for each participant.

For more details, please see the attached PDF or the website here. Proposal submissions should be made through the online form.

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