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51 | A Chat With Susan Owens

51 | A Chat With Susan Owens

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Listen to Episode 51: A Chat With Susan Owens

Also Available on iTunes

Episode Summary

This week on Tea & Tattle podcast, I'm hosting a special episode that's perfect for Halloween and is bound to get you in the mood for any spooky happenings tonight. The art historian Susan Owens has joined me for a fantastic conversation about Susan's latest book, The Ghost: A Cultural History, which examines the significance of ghosts in British art, literature, film and folklore.

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In today's episode, Susan explains how moving to a Medieval house prompted her research into ghosts, and how people's stories and artwork featuring ghosts offer an intriguing insight into the wider culture and politics of the times.

Susan Owens, photographed by Stephen Calloway

Susan Owens, photographed by Stephen Calloway

I questioned Susan about what she considers to be the earliest ghost stories, which famous literary ghost best represents its era, why seances became so popular in Victorian society, and so much more. 

Listen to learn more about the cultural history of ghosts in Britain. 

Episode Breakdown

  • 00:26 - Miranda introduces Susan Owens.
  • 01:52 - Susan explains how she began her career as an art historian.
  • 03:37 - Why Susan started researching the cultural history of ghosts.
  • 08:32 - The enduring appeal and fascination of ghosts.
  • 09:16 - Which was the first ghost story?
  • 13:20 - How the appearance of ghosts has changed over time. 
  • 18:23 - The infamous Cock Lane ghost. 
  • 22:01 - Which famous literary ghost best represents its era?
  • 25:38 - M.R. James's role in influencing our expectations of a typical ghost story.
  • 28:27 - Paul Nash, ghosts and the British landscape.
  • 33:38 - The rise of the seance in Victorian society.
  • 37:19 - How are ghost stories changing today?
  • 39:26 - What's next for Susan.

Episode Links

  • The Ghost: A Cultural History by Susan Owens.
  • Susan's upcoming events: 'History by the River’, at the Blue Anchor in Hammersmith on Tuesday 14 November (get tickets); 'The Haunted Landscape’ at Conway Hall in central London on Saturday 18th November (get tickets).
  • Find Susan on Twitter.

Tweet Me!

click on the Twitter icon to share my favourite quote from this episode

Tweet: 'Whatever form [ghosts] show up in, they’ll reflect our habits and our lives and our ideas.' - the history of ghosts: http://bit.ly/2ygaGER

Whatever form [ghosts] show up in, they’ll reflect our habits and our lives and our ideas.

 -Susan Owens

Your Thoughts

Thank you so much for listening and being a part of Tea & Tattle podcast. As always, I love to hear your thoughts, so please let me know:

What did you enjoy most about this episode? Which is your favourite ghost story?

Next Time...

Sophie is back on the podcast, and we're celebrating the 1st year anniversary of Tea & Tattle! Be sure to tune in again next week to hear us reflect on the past year and answer listener questions. 

Happy Listening!  

52 | 1st Year Anniversary Special

52 | 1st Year Anniversary Special

50 | Our Favourite Persephone Books

50 | Our Favourite Persephone Books

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