The main focus during my first six months at the University of Portsmouth has been developing and launching a website for the Supernatural Cities research project. Supernatural Cities is an interdisciplinary group with members drawn from schools faculties across the university – from historians, literary scholars and creative writers to specialists in architecture and game design. And beyond Portsmouth, the goal is for the project to serve as a network that helps bring together researchers exploring urban space and experience in relation to uncanniness, spectrality, haunting and the supernatural.
One thing I’ve already encountered through my own interdisciplinary research has been the difficulty of building networks and finding out about relevant events. If you don’t feel like your work ‘belongs’ within a certain discipline or period, or doesn’t fall within the remit of an established society or association, it can feel a lot more challenging to stay on top of CFPs or make contact with potential collaborators. The Supernatural Cities website was conceived with this in mind – not just as an opportunity to highlight the research of project members, but as a hub where we can collate relevant news and events taking place across the country, and where we can eventually host posts from other researchers working in this area.
I began working on the Supernatural Cities site soon after starting at Portsmouth last September, and we formally launched it in April. I’m very fortunate that Karl Bell, the PI on the project, has allowed me a lot of autonomy in developing a visual style for Supernatural Cities, and designing the website structure and content. I’m not an expert web designer by any stretch of the imagination, and the project definitely pushed me to develop my skills – but I’m proud of the end result, and hopeful that it will help the project to grow successfully. We’ve already published more than 20 posts, including a series of ‘Spectral Perspectives‘ pieces in which members of the project introduce their research. Karl’s post on the origins of Supernatural Cities offers a great introduction to what has been a really inspiring project to be involved with.