SCSC will be welcoming two keynote speakers to share their own thoughts and experiences.
Dr David Clarke
Research Fellow in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University
Dr David Clarke completed his PhD in English Cultural Tradition and Folklore at the University of Sheffield in 1999 whilst forging a career as an investigative journalist. He joined Sheffield Hallam University in 2006 as Course Leader on the BA (Hons) in Journalism and became Reader in Journalism in 2015. His publications and wide experience as a broadcaster and consultant/curator for The National Archives UFO project (2008-2013) brought international recognition to the university as a centre of expertise in the study of contemporary legends. His high international profile as an expert in contemporary legend and investigative reporting has resulted in on-going collaborations and consultancy work with both the BBC and The National Archives. He is the author of ten books including The Angel of Mons (2004) and How UFOs Conquered the World: a history of a modern myth (2015).
In 1952 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, wrote to his advisors for an inquiry into reports of flying saucers asking: "What can it mean? What is the truth?" For 60 years the Ministry of Defence quietly collected accounts of sightings from military personnel and stories sent to them by ordinary people from all walks of life. From 2008 to 2013 David Clarke worked as the consultant for an open government project that led to the online release of more than 200 of these files and 60,000 pages of reports and correspondence on UFOs at Britain's National Archives. Dubbed 'Britain's X-Files' by the media these reports of encounters with strange flying objects in the sky - and sometimes on the ground - form the largest collection of personal experience narratives outside the archives of the Society for Psychical Research. David will be discussing his research from the National Archives UFO Project during his keynote.
Professor Dennis Waskul
Professor of Sociology and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Minnesota State University Mankato
Dennis Waskul is a Professor of Sociology and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Minnesota State University Mankato. He has authored or co-authored three books including Ghostly Encounters (with Michele Waskul, 2016, Temple University Press), The Senses in Self, Culture, and Society (with Phillip Vannini and Simon Gottschalk, 2011, Routledge), and Self-Games and Body Play (2003, Peter Lang). Dennis has edited or co-edited four books; The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History (with Marc Eaton, 2018, Temple University Press), Popular Culture as Everyday Life (with Phillip Vannini, 2016, Routledge), Body/Embodiment (with Phillip Vannini, 2006, Ashgate), and net.seXXX (2004, Peter Lang). Dennis has published over fifty empirical studies, book chapters, observational essays, or theoretical works, has served as President of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, on the editorial board for multiple journals including Sexualities, Qualitative Sociology, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and The Sociological Quarterly, he is also a former associate editor of Symbolic Interaction.
In his keynote, Dennis will be summoning a call for scholarship on the supernatural, discussing both its promises and risks. Yet, to do so productively Dennis argues that it is crucial to proceed with clearer definitions and parameters. Drawing from distinctions that he and Marc Eaton articulate in The Supernatural in Society Culture and History (2018, Temple University Press) he argues that the supernatural ought to be understand as a distinct set of phenomena apart from both religious experiences and alleged paranormal abilities. Waskul comments on the status of existing supernatural research, and calls for greater attention on the actual experiences that people claim to have with supernatural phenomena.