The Disembodied Heckler at the Heckler Symposium
I'm going to be putting the case for poltergeists as 'disembodied hecklers' at Lee Campbell and Mel Jordans' Heckler Symposium 13th July
1 Thoresby Street, Nottingham, United Kingdom, NG1 1AJ.
Saturday 13 July 2013
12.30 - 18.30
A symposium of performative presentations and provocations entitled organised by Loughborough University School of the Arts Lee Campbell and Mel Jordan in association with Trade, Nottingham.
Daniel Z. Kadar, Professor of English Language and Linguistics, Director, Centre for Intercultural Politeness Research, University of Huddersfield. Provisional paper title: The heckler's 'impoliteness': A mimetic-relational perspective.
Peter Bond (Senior Lecturer, Performance theory and practice, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design). Provisional paper title: Off-side.
Dr. Ian Bruff (Political Scientist, Lecturer in International Relations at Loughborough University’s Department for Politics, History and International Relations).
with invited speakers: Robin Bale, Andrew Brown, Claire Makhlouf Carter, Corinne Felgate, Ben Fitton, Mel Jordan, Kypros Kyprianou, David Mabb, Tim Miles, Sarah Sparkes
The Disembodied Heckler
'As it was 3am we decided to ﬁnish, so I said, “Go and vanish Gef” to which a voice replied, “I
mean to throw a brick at you at night when you are asleep”'
Harry Price & R.S.Lambert The Haunting of Cashen' s Gap: A Modern Miracle explained
Methuen & Co. Ltd (1936) p.106.
In 1931 several national newspapers covered the story of 'The Talking Weasel' an alleged poltergeist emanating from an isolated farmhouse on the Isle of Man occupied by the Irvin family. All three members of the family claimed to have heard, felt and, in the teenage daughter Voiree's case, seen a manifestation taking the form of a talking mongoose called 'Gef'. Gef taunted the family and their visitors from behind the house's wood panels, interrupting 'respectable' conversation with insults and comic songs. When psychical researcher Harry Price sent Captain MacDonald to investigate the 'haunting' Gef mocked his authority with derisory personal comments and threats – see above quote. Poltergeist is a compound of the German 'poltern' meaning to make a noise, rattle, knock about, scold or bellow and 'geist' meaning ghost. Historically poltergeists infest domestic places where there is a teenage family member, usually female, residing. Poltergeists disrupt routine and order in a domestic arena with insulting retorts,
the use of domestic objects as missiles and the occasional possession of a family member. . Poltergeists subvert the family dynamics, with child becoming the intermediary of outside forces and unpleasant behaviour rewarded with notoriety. At their most successful they will come under the scrutiny of a much wider, even global, public audience via media coverage. Drawing on a number of case studies from the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, this presentation will put the case for poltergeists as 'disembodied hecklers'.
read all the Speaker Abstracts
The symposium will explore the potential of the heckler as a speaker that can offer a revised understanding of social exchanges within contemporary debates on participation, linguistics, ethics and communication. Artists Campbell and Jordan argue that the heckler, a person who disrupts performances, speeches and public addresses should be considered as a metaphorical figurehead of impoliteness.
At any rate the heckler should appear on the menu of communicative speech acts and as a tactic for understanding the performers relationship to an audience. Furthermore the notion of the heckler enables a review of the troublesome divisions presented in the dichotomies inherent in the coupling of speaker and listener, performer and audience, official speaker and unauthorised respondent.