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School of Arts and Humanities

The Alchemical Landscape: magic and the occult in contemporary English art

Contemporary writers, film-makers and musicians are increasingly investing
the English landscape with notions of magic and the occult. As part of this
year’s Festival of Ideas, Yvonne Salmon and James Riley present a field
guide to this ‘geographic turn’.

Dr James Riley is College Lecturer and Fellow in English at Girton College, Cambridge. He writes on modern and contemporary literature and blogs at Yvonne Salmon is an affiliated university lecturer with the Faculty of Law and Department of Land Economy, and is a member of Cambridge University English Faculty. She writes on law, literature and visual culture. They will both be speaking at the event The Alchemical Landscape on 24 October 2015.

An increasing number of writers, artists and filmmakers are re-investing the landscape with esoteric and mythic imagery. From the revival of ‘Folk Horror’ to the crossover between magical and artistic practice, this ‘enchanted’ representation of the countryside works as both a link to the past and an articulation of pressing contemporary concerns. Launched at the University of Cambridge in March 2015, The Alchemical Landscape is an ongoing research project that uses public events, publications and artworks to explore the implications of this ‘geographic turn’.

At this year’s Festival of Ideas the project directors Yvonne Salmon and James Riley will be presenting a talk – or rather ‘Field Guide’ – to this uncanny territory.  

The Alchemical Landscape will be held at the Faculty of English, Room GR06 on Saturday 24 October 6:00pm.

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