Conversations with a ghost

Publié le 6 février 2023 Mis à jour le 10 février 2023
le 17 mars 2023
Amphi F417, Maison de la Recherche, UT2J
This symposium seeks to examine how the relation to the dead is represented and conceptualized in the literature and the arts of the English-speaking world, whenever the ghost scene involves a spirit conversing with the living. 

Ghosts are in-between figures: they exist both in the world of the living and that of the dead; they belong to the past but also to the present time; they have a body and do not have one. Arguably, their function or prerogative consists in putting two different worlds in contact. But do they establish any form of communication between them? The literary ghost can be a mute or inarticulate presence, which may have encouraged the interpretation of the ghost as the emblem of repressed, muted affect – of what remains unsaid or resistant to language. Yet many ghosts actually speak and engage in long, insistent conversations with the living, old Hamlet being of course a case in point. 

Conversing involves negotiation – the instability of subject-positions, the quest for some common ground; to a certain extent, it also posits the desirable nature of the encounter. Considering scenes of conversation with ghosts invites us to consider texts or shows which distance themselves from horrific effects and delineate new ways of dealing with the dead.