Friday, 9 November 2018

Her Eyes Were Wild: Fairies and Madness

7.45pm Thursday 25 April 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
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Many today wish to see a fairy; many in the Middle Ages wished that they had not. To encounter a spirit was to be drawn out of the warm world of human solidarity into solitude, wasting, grief and madness. Fairies brought mental illness in their train, and even the healing power of saints found it hard to stitch up a broken mind. 

The fairy mythology provided ready-made narratives for understanding and containing mental disturbance, stories continuing in Irish and Scandinavian culture. Fairies – with their caprice, their deceptions, their insubstantial grandeur – were like the shadows cast by a disordered mind. 

Folklorist Jeremy Harte reveals how mental illness was often ascribed to fairies – and how a troubled person, led astray by fairies, could imagine their way back to human society 

7.45pm Thursday 25 April 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Super-Recognisers: Spotting Faces in a Crowd

7.45pm Thursday 28 March 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East


Crowd Of Faces by Dawn Hudson (Public Domain)
The use of police super-recognisers in London has vastly increased suspect identification rates from CCTV in recent years. They perform exceptionally highly at familiar and unfamiliar face recognition, simultaneous face matching and spotting target faces in videos of large crowds. Non-police super-recognisers are also superior to most people at long-term face recognition, even when faces are heavily disguised. 

Psychologist Dr Josh P Davis of the University of Greenwich explores his research on these very rare individuals and his work with the police and courts

7.45pm Thursday 28 March 2019
£4 / £2 (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Diagnosis: Unexplained

Tuesday 19 March 2019
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions  (Advance tickets
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
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Early medical journals contain numerous cases which appear inexplicable to modern science. One Victorian patient apparently had an entire family of slugs living in her stomach; another started to emit urine from her eyes, ears and even her navel. 

Thomas Morris examines some of the strangest tales ever reported in the medical literature, from exploding teeth to the world's first amphibious baby. 

Thomas is a writer based in London.  He as  worked as a radio producer for the BBC for 17 years, making programmes including Front Row, The Film Programme, Open Book and
Night Waves – and spent five years at Radio 4 as producer of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time.  In early 2015 he left the BBC to write full-time.  His journalism has appeared in publications including The Lancet, The Times, the Financial Times and The Cricketer.

Tuesday 19 March 2019
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions  (Advance tickets
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Facebook page

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Interview with a Vampire Expert

7.45pm Thursday 28 February 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East



The Vampire has fascinated Western Europe from the early 1700s, but the tradition was a real part of Eastern European lives for a considerable time before that. The archetype has been taken up by art of all kinds, but what is the authentic history behind the tales of the predatory, living dead?

Deborah Hyde, editor of The Skeptic, looks at recent attempts to understand the folklore and tries to work out how an eastern European ritual made its way to late 19th-century New England.

7.45pm Thursday 28 February 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Mermaids: Fish, Flesh or Fowl?

7.15pm Thursday 7 February 2019
£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page



We all know what a mermaid looks like: a woman with a fish’s tail. But tracing her family tree from ancient myth and image, through medieval symbol and Renaissance legend, romantic folktale and suggestive art, we find a shape-shifter whose cousins are birds, monkeys, seals and serpents, as well as fish; whose greatest significance may be simply her gender, showing in her mirror a reflection of how men, through history, have seen women.

Sophia Kingshill is the author of Mermaids (Little Toller, 2015), a cultural history of sirens, selkies and other sea women. She is co-author of The Fabled Coast (Random House, 2012) and The Lore of Scotland (Random House, 2009), with the late Jennifer Westwood. Her YA fantasy novel Between the Raven and the Dove was published by Accent Press in 2017, and she is currently working on the sequel. She lives in London and is a member of the Folklore Society.

7.15pm Thursday 7 February 2019
£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Methods from Madness: Magic, Ghosts and Experimental Psychology

Dr Matt Tompkins mixes storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion. 

7.45pm Thursday 31 January 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East






On Sunday November 18th 1877, at 3pm in the afternoon, Wilhelm Wundt, sometimes identified as the “Founder of Experimental Psychology”, joined hands with a group of academics and bore witness to a series of “miracles” in the presence of a visiting American spirit medium. Wundt was unconvinced by what he saw – but a number of his esteemed colleagues, including world-renowned physicist Johann Zöllner, believed that the events they had witnessed called for a complete revision of the fundamental laws of physics – a revision that could accommodate immortal fourth-dimensional spirit people. 


The resulting debate was not itself immortalised in any mainstream psychology textbooks, but, arguably, it played a fundamental role in the subsequent emergence of Experimental Psychology as a formal scientific discipline. Magician and experimental psychologist Dr Matt Tompkins mixes storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion. 

7.45pm Thursday 31 January 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East