Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Forthcoming: An inter-disciplinary symposium on ‘Gef the Talking Mongoose' at Senate House, London (Thursday 10 April)

I've just come across a call for papers to be submitted for a symposium to be held in Senate House, the great academic library in Bloomsbury, Central London, on Thursday 10th April. Excitingly, it is to be devoted to the perplexing case of Gef the Talking Mongoose! For those unaware of this tale, it revolved around the claims of the Irving family, who lived in an isolated farmhouse near the hamlet of Dalby on the Isle of Man during the 1930s. They asserted that their house was haunted by a mongoose who had the ability to speak English, and who informed the family that his name was Gef and that he came from New Delhi. Unsurprisingly, the British press jumped on the story, and soon reporters were flooding to the island in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature. Following in their wake were parapsychologists and psychic investigators, among them famous names like Harry Price and Hereward Carrington. No one ever actually found any substantiated proof that Gef had ever existed, but the story has lived on in folklore, and was one that I lapped up when told of it as a child.

This looks set to be a fascinating event, and while I'm not sure that I'll have anything to present, I will certainly try and make it along if possible. For those who would however be interested in presenting something, I include a copy of the call for papers: 

This interdisciplinary symposium invites diverse responses to this extraordinary episode in cultural history, the people at its heart and its subsequent treatment and exploration. We would particularly encourage practitioners and researchers from the following disciplines to consider reviewing the case: psychoanalysis, psychology, literary study, cultural study, local history, media studies, mythology and folklore, paranormal studies. Please send abstract of 300 words for 15-20 minute papers to gefsymposium@gmail.com by February 25th 2014. Requests to submit papers to be read in absentia will be considered. All applicants will be notified of the selected programme by March 12th.

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