Academia, Avocation and Ludicity in the Supernatural Fiction of M.R. James

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Title

Academia, Avocation and Ludicity in the Supernatural Fiction of M.R. James

Description

In his ‘antiquarian’ ghost stories, Montague Rhodes James sought to examine the male character sub specie ludi, as solitary types who – in their sensitivity to inherently playful, or ludic, situations – are launched into a transformative game in which their identity is traumatically and horrifically challenged. In the vast majority of his tales, James focuses upon a main character that is usually a middle-aged English academic or antiquarian who, by his insatiable intellectual curiosity, encounters a demonic spectre in some cathedral or library. In this paper I argue that James emphasises the ‘amateur’, avocational, and non-professional status of these ghost-seers as a playful textual strategy that reflects upon his own blended identity as a career academic and part-time supernatural savant. It is the typical ‘normality’ of M.R. James’s amateur academic that allows for abnormal events to occur which dramatically invigorate everyday life and challenge stable identity through the medium of familiar, yet fearful, scholarly artefacts.

Creator

Shane McCorristine

Publisher

LIMINA A Journal of Historic and Cultural Studies

Date

2007

Format

Essay

Essay Item Type Metadata

Citation

Shane McCorristine, “Academia, Avocation and Ludicity in the Supernatural Fiction of M.R. James,” A Thin Ghost, accessed October 26, 2014, http://www.thin-ghost.org/items/show/172.

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License

Creative Commons License

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