Spellbound #3 | Demonic Possession 2

Monday, 25 March 2019, 7.30 pm, diffrakt | centre for theoretical periphery

Film screening and discussion with
Nadine Hartmann | Clio Nicastro | Hannah Proctor

Spiritual Hysteria, Exorcism and Contagious Lust
This pair of events will consist of two film screenings. The first screening will begin with a short introduction and the second screening will be followed by a discussion where we try to draw out some thematic connections. Though very different aesthetically, both films address an outbreak of mass hysteria that took place in a convent in the French town of Loudun in 1634. The nuns became obsessed with a promiscuous priest and were driven into a kind of frenzy that was understood to be the result of demonic possession. The priest was eventually tried for witchcraft and executed. Here ‘mass hysteria’ takes on a spiritual dimension but remains connected to questions of gender and sexuality.


Spellbound: Mass Hysteria, Collective Symptoms, Contagious States

Series organised by
Nadine Hartmann | Clio Nicastro | Hannah Proctor

This event series explores experiences of collective mental contagion. Probing the boundaries between the psychic and the physiological, the natural and the supernatural, the social and the spiritual, the events will focus on often mysterious mass psychic phenomena such as hypnosis, fainting fits, possession, the ‘mimetic’ dimension of hysteria and eating disorders, the regimentation of gesture and trances. How do certain kinds of collective behaviours or experiences take hold and spread among groups? Do conditions with no clear biological origin have their roots in society? What do mass symptoms express?

Spellbound will take the form of events in thematic pairs: a screening night followed by a reading and discussion night. Although the two nights in each pair will be conceptually linked they also function as stand alone events.