Making a new myth to understand an old one: research projects in the edgelands of Milton Keynes and the Lovecraft villages of South Devon
Prof. Phil Smith, Plymouth University Research Group: Power, Space and Cultural Change Title:Making a new myth to understand an old one: research projects in the edgelands of Milton Keynes and the Lovecraft villages of South Devon. Abstract:This talk draws on two projects addressing contrasting sites of intricate layering, trace and ambience. The two projects use walking practices, performance and fiction writing as means to understand intentional and interpretative myth-making. One is an enquiry in Milton Keynes about the revenant of a utopian semi-plan with anachronistic elements, while the second examines faint traces of an ancient presence with resonance for the writings of weird tale writer H. P.Lovecraft (whose ancestors come from the area) and their relevance to contemporary place-making there. The talk also considers the usefulness of writing fiction as a means to share research findings and join a debate about the meanings of a place. Dr Phil Smith is a performance-maker, writer and academic researcher, specialising in themes around walking, site-specificity, mythogeographies and counter-tourism. He is a core member of site-based arts collective Wrights & Sites, who have just published ‘The Architect-Walker’ (2018). He has recently completed a project as a Site Artist for Tracing the Pathway’s ‘Groundwork’ project in Milton Keynes. Phil’s publications include ‘Making Site-Specific Theatre and Performance’ (forthcoming), ‘Rethinking Mythogeography in Northfield, Minnesota’ (2018), ‘Anywhere’ (2017), ‘A Footbook of Zombie Walking’ and ‘Walking’s New Movement’ (2015), ‘On Walking’ and ‘Enchanted Things’ (2014), ‘Counter-Tourism: The Handbook’ (2012) and ‘Mythogeography’ (2010). He is an Associate Professor (Reader) at Plymouth University.