Get into the Halloween spirit with our best stories on the holiday, which include a look into the Salem witch trials and the obsession with Satanism in nineteenth-century France. No tricks, only treats: all stories contain free links to the supporting academic research on JSTOR. Happy Halloween!
How to Summon Spirits
October 21, 2021
The Spiritualist, a newspaper published from 1869-1882, is filled with tales of supernatural phenomena and tips for communicating with the dead.
The Dressy Ghosts of Victorian Literature
July 30, 2021
Realism was exceptionally well suited (heh) for elaborate descriptions of spectral clothing.
The Very Human Appeal of American Horror Story
October 3, 2021
The late author Joanna Russ had insights about why horror speaks to ordinary experiences and emotions.
The D-I-Y Origins of Night of the Living Dead
November 5, 2020
Night of the Living Dead’s production story reads like a means to an end: a rag-tag group of creatives makes a movie on nothing to get noticed.
Marxferatu: Teaching Marx with Vampires
October 30, 2018
For a younger generation trying to understand Marxism, the best way in may be: vampirism.
How the Great Pumpkin Became Great
October 21, 2019
The origins of Linus's pumpkin deity, who "rises out of the pumpkin patch and flies through the air and brings toys to all the children in the world."
Nine Black Cat Stickers
October 27, 2020
They crossed our path and we lived to tell the tale. Check them out in the Street Arts Graphics Collection!
A Roman Feast… of Death!
October 17, 2019
The banquet hall was painted black from ceiling to floor. By the pale flicker of grave lamps, the invited senators coud make out a row of tombstones.
The Decapitation Experiments of Jean César Legallois
October 29, 2020
This French scientist conducted a series of gruesome experiments in his quest to discover the true limits of life and death.
The Pious Undead of Medieval Europe
October 14, 2019
Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg's eight-volume history contained stories of the living dead—and, he believed, proof of the Christian resurrection.
Do We Have to Tell Them the House Is Haunted?
October 27, 2018
On the law and mythologies of haunting, from antiquity to today.
Herbs & Verbs: How to Do Witchcraft for Real
October 25, 2017
Like for real real.
Trick or Treat Sadists: A Halloween Urban Legend
October 30, 2015
Are there a group of trick or treat sadists poisoning the candy they distribute on Halloween?
How Scary is Too Scary?
October 26, 2016
Halloween poses questions for parents, like how scary is too scary for their kids? The answer depends on when we ask the question.
The Real Vampires of Europe
October 31, 2017
In general, a vampire is a malicious spirit or soul of the deceased who is not confined to the grave. Where did the idea come from?
The Origins of Halloween
October 31, 2014
Halloween history and ethnography.
What Caused the Salem Witch Trials?
October 27, 2015
Looking into the underlying causes of the Salem Witch Trials in the 17th century.
How Victorian Mansions Became the Default Haunted House
October 16, 2018
Quick: Picture a haunted house. It's probably a Victorian mansion, right? Here's how these structures became signifiers of horror, haunting, and death.
Why We Love to Be Scared
September 2, 2016
Nearly 1.5 billion tickets to horror movies were sold in 2015 alone. But why do we love being scared so much?
A Belief in Ghosts: Poetry and the Shared Imagination
October 4, 2016
An essay from poet Dorothea Lasky on poetry, ghosts, and the shared imagination.
Satanism and Magic in the Age of the Moulin Rouge
March 9, 2016
How did some of the most illustrious names of fin de siècle French literature end up in a newspaper battle over witchcraft and evil spirits?
From Samhain to Halloween
October 10, 2018
Exploring the Celtic origins of everyone's favorite harvest holiday celebrating thresholds between life and death.