LAWRENCE — Haunting Humanities: Disciplines in the Dark is a free, public evening of immersive presentations featuring spooky stories and legends. Halloween is a holiday that can bring out repressed histories, memories and fears to the surface while allowing us to celebrate that very thing which makes us most human — our mortality. As such, it provides a unique opportunity for scholars to share serious research, nightmarish stories and chilling factoids. This year’s celebration will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Abe & Jake’s Landing.
With a venue map, visitors can guide themselves through a series of innovative presentations, activities, games and performances at their own pace. Each exhibit will have a rating – G, PG, PG-13 or R – listed in the event’s program to indicate whether it is appropriate for younger audiences or adults. Terrebone Po’Boys will be vending food, April’s Sweet Treats will offer dessert, and the Abe & Jake’s bar will feature spooky boutique cocktails.
Over 25 individual booths, tables and rooms will allow local scholars and cultural organizations to present research in new and unique ways: KU Film & Media Studies graduate students will offer an interactive story-telling experience and photo booth retelling German Expressionist horror films. Presenters from the Spencer Museum of Art will guide attendees through an ancient samurai ghost story ritual. And be on the lookout for the ghosts of Lawrence suffragists answering questions about their work in advance of the upcoming centennial anniversary.
Sarah Bishop, associate director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, said she is excited to reprise the event this year.
“We had scholars engaging audiences in all kinds of exciting ways — from an escape room puzzle based on the 1895 real-life murder of Kansan Tom Patton created by Wichita State University Library faculty Elizabeth Walker and Jessica Mirasol to a booth where you could get made up to look like a witch while learning about the history and symbolism of witches in western literature, designed by KU theater scholar Jane Barnette,” Bishop said. “Humanities scholarship doesn’t always have to be about libraries and lecture halls — it can be wicked fun, too.”
“To me it’s one of the more exciting things KU has done,” Barnette said. “I love the idea of a haunted house full of well-researched topics.”
This year, with new financial support from the city of Lawrence, and continued support from Humanities Kansas, Tequa Creek and many others, Haunting Humanities returns with several new presenters (and a few of last year’s favorites):
- "Witch-Hunt(ed," a choose-your-own witch-venture, with Richard Godbeer, director of the Hall Center of the Humanities and an expert on witchcraft and witch trials in early America, in partnership with KU lecturer Sean Gullickson and the undergraduate students of Honors 190
- Marta Caminero-Santangelo, professor of English and director of KU’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, sharing the legend of “La Llorona: Mexican Boogey-Woman”
- The Kansas City Public Library hosting a “Breakout Box” game based on the "Pretty Boy" Floyd Union Station Massacre.
The evening will culminate with a short concert from the KU Chamber Orchestra and a dance performance choreographed by Maya Tillman-Rayton, KU lecturer in dance.