Dr Carl Watkins (University Senior Lecturer in Central Medieval History, Cambridge)
In this talk, Carl Watkins will speak about his book The Undiscovered Country: Journeys Among the Dead:
“We know what happens to the body when we die, but what happens to the soul? The answer may remain a great unknown, but the question has shaped centuries of tradition, folklore and religious belief.
In this vivid history of the macabre, Carl Watkins goes in search of the ancient customs, local characters and compelling tales that illuminate how people over the years have come to terms with our ultimate fate. The result is an enthralling journey into Britain’s past, from medieval hauntings on the Yorkshire moors and eccentric memorials on the Cornish coast to séances in Victorian kitchens and gallows tales from a Bristol gaol. Impeccably researched and elegantly told, The Undiscovered Country ventures beyond the veil to bring the dead back to life.”
Carl Watkins is University Senior Lecturer in Central Medieval History. He carries out research into religious culture in the central and later middle ages and is especially interested in beliefs about, and conceptualisations of, the supernatural in this period. His work encompasses the methodological problems of studying medieval religion, 'high' theological change and 'popular' beliefs about the afterlife and ghosts, angels and demons, miracles and divine signs. He has written about concepts of sinfulness and the emergence of purgatory, has completed a book for Cambridge University Press which explores beliefs about the supernatural in a medieval English context and has, more recently, explored beliefs about the dead during the middle ages and beyond in The Undiscovered Country (2013), a wider-ranging book published by Bodley Head. He is a fellow of Magdalene College where he directs studies in history
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