Between Obsession and Possession:
Witches, Devils and the Medical Gaze 1

Monday, 27 May 2019, 7.30 pm, diffrakt | centre for theoretical periphery

Workshop with
Nadine Hartmann | Clio Nicastro | Hannah Proctor

The two films discussed in our last meetings, Mother Joan of the Angels (1961) by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and The Devils (1971) by Ken Russell, raised questions about the subtle yet pivotal distinction between possession and obsession. Whereas the obsessed are affected by demonic apparitions, visible marks on the body and strange uncontrollable fits, the possessed are completely under the control of spirits who take advantage of their faculties and organs to dictate or direct their actions.

We will further delve into this theme by reading excerpts from Michel De Certau’s The Possession at Loudun and Amy Hollywood’s “Gender, Agency, and the Divine in Religious Historiography”. This meeting will be followed by a discussion of chapters from Jeanne Favret-Saada’s The Anti-Witch and Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch.

Please send an email to mail@diffrakt.space to register and receive the reading material. It’s not necessary to have attended the previous sessions and have watched the films in order to participate.

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.