Room 207 Press Online Seminar Series, Summer 2020

Hi, I'm Howard David Ingham, the Bram Stoker Award-nominated writer of We Don't Go Back: A Watcher's Guide to Folk Horror, and a bunch of other books, games and sundry things with words. 

Beginning in June 2020 I'm be running a series of weekly online seminars. There are three streams I'm running, and these will alternate on a three-weekly cycle.

The Details

Seminars will run on Mondays, starting June 1st 2020.

Each seminar will run twice: the first at 8pm, British Summer Time; the second at 8pm, Eastern Daylight Time (which is 1am BST). If you're in the UK or in a similar time zone, you'll probably want to book for the BST session; if you're in the US, you'll likely want the EDT session. But anyone can go to either if they can make it.

The seminars are going to run online, using Zoom, because that's what everyone uses, and honestly, it's about the easiest way to do this. Before the talk I'll mail everyone with meeting links and passwords (because there will be passwords).

How much?
Backing my Patreon not only gets you a season ticket to all the talks, but access to videos after the fact, along with all the other benefits. If you don't want to commit to a subscription, each class is available on a Pay-What-You-Want basis (input how much you want to pay in the checkout box), and is limited to 50 attendees, because bandwidth (so please register, even if you decide to come for free). 

What If It's Sold Out? 
If there's demand, I'll be running popular classes again. There are three slots in August and September (between the last few Cult Cinema sessions) for the sold-out classes to have second runs. 

If you want to get on the waiting list, or want to request a session of a sold-out seminar, go here. 

With all that out of the way, we're good to go. Here are the classes.

Monday 1st June: The Scam from Atlantis:
the occult roots of fake archaeology

Alternative archaeology has offered a narrative of the past at variance with academic orthodoxy for well over a century, and writers like Graham Hancock and Erich von Däniken have gained huge followings, despite being widely debunked. But where do beliefs like this come from? How do they spread? And are they really all that “alternative”?

More details are here.
You can find a video of this talk on my Patreon site.

Monday 8th June 2020: The Second Haunted Generation:
the return of folk horror

For the last few years, folk horror has been steadily growing in popularity, but with the release of Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019), it can really be said to have become a pop culture phenomenon. But why has folk horror found its audience so decisively? What is it about a genre largely defined in retrospect that has struck such a chord? This talk gives a broad overview of international folk horror in its time and space from the 1970s to the present, and, discussing how the genre has been defined, offers an explanation of why periods of history inspire certain sorts of pop culture, and what that means for us in the present day.

More details are here.
You can find a video of this talk on my Patreon site.

Monday 15th June: Cult Cinema 1 – How They Get You:
a primer on cults, brainwashing and the politics of belief in film

We as a society have been scared of heretical believers for a very long time, and horror stories about cults have long been part of our popular culture, not least because the most frightening thing of all might be that we could join them. In this, the first of the Cult Cinema series looks at how cinema shows cult recruitment, abuse and control – and the process of deprogramming and escape, and how this relates to what brainwashing really is.

More details are here.
You can find a video of this talk on my Patreon site.

Monday 22nd June: Are You With Us, Mr Higginson?
How a 1970s trial for psychic fakery made the headlines

In 1976, Britain’s most influential psychic, Gordon Higginson, hit the headlines when he was put on trial for faking psychic phenomena. This is the story of the last scandal of Spiritualism, a series of events that spelled the slow death of the spiritualist movement in the UK, and which shines a light on just how weird the 1970s really were. Along the way, we’ll approach some of the other great spiritualist scandals and, with a practical demonstration, answer the question: just how do you fake ectoplasm?

More details are here. But you can also see the faked ectoplasm videos on their own here.
You can find a video of this talk on my Patreon site.

Monday 29th June 2020: The Question in Bodies:
first principles of identity horror

“Identity Horror” is the horror of the fluid self, both in terms of bodily traumas but also in terms of psychological and spiritual transformations. But what are the main texts of identity horror? And what does it mean to us? In this seminar, I will lay the groundwork for a new conception of horror, one that is contemporary, in discourse with queer identities and admissive of a cathartic response to trauma.

More details are here.
You can find a video of this talk on my Patreon site.

Monday 13th July: The Color Turquoise:
giant lizards, award-winning novelists and David Icke

David Icke: goalkeeper, TV sports commentator or enlightened world teacher? Lizard-obsessed conspiracy theorist or  basic antisemite? The strange career trajectory of one of the world’s most famous alternative thinkers has obscured the origins of his beliefs. In this talk, we examine the historical origins of David Icke’s beliefs, going back more than a century to the heart of the New Age movement, and work out just why Alice Walker is a fan of his.

More information here.

Monday 20th July 2020: Lectio Infernalis:
Horror and Spiritual Practice

In Andrzej Zuławski's masterpiece Possession, we are told by Sam Neill's Marc that “God is a disease”, and Possession, while exploring themes of identity in human relationship, attempts to approach the contradiction of what immanent divinity might mean in a godless world.

Using the Benedictine meditative/spiritual practice of Lectio Divina (literally, “Divine Reading”) as an unconventional critical apparatus, the basic tools of transactional analysis, and personal experiences of mental illness as an entry point, Lectio Infernalis reaches towards the practical use of “difficult” or “extreme” cinema – Possession, Martyrs and others – as a lens through which we can explore cathartic and healing approaches to past traumas.

Here's a post from 2018 where I approach this. 

Monday 3rd August: Sex On-Demand:
sex with robots in cinema and TV

Why is it that the sexy robot woman (and occasionally the sexy robot man) is such a staple in film and TV? In this talk, I'll look at the concept of sex with robots in visual science fiction from every position (so to speak) and why the fembot is such a pervy, pervasive and lasting idea in our media.

Monday 17th August: Cult Cinema 4 – Sects Education:
the dark-eyed stepchildren of mainstream religion

Question: what's the difference between a cult and a legitimate religion?
Answer: honestly, about a hundred years.

The 19th century saw an explosion in new religions, and among the most successful of them were Protestant Christian offshoots such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. Cinema’s relationship with them has historically been as variable as that of secular society itself, and this seminar discusses how and why the great Protestant Sects have had such a variety of portrayals in our pop culture.

Here's a post about a Jehovah's Witness-critical movie.


Sects Education: The Dark-Eyed Stepchildren of Mainstream Religion

 Monday 24th August: Your Move, Darwin:
humanity, hope and meaning on the Planet of the Apes

With over fifty years of history and a third reboot in the works, Planet of the Apes hangs on with a gorilla grip as one of the most enduring and perverse of the Hollywood science fiction franchises. Combining bleak warnings about the human disregard for the planet and for the species that share it with us with talking simians, even when the series gets a bit hairy it always reflects our culture in a powerful and memorable way. Come along for a picture of a gorilla in a rain hat, stay for an examination of how a series of post-apocalyptic movies where the apes inherit the earth has one of the best takes on what it means to be human in genre cinema.

Monday 7th September: Cult Cinema 5 – Evangelical Horrors:
the cinematic politics of fundamentalist Christianity

From duplicitous televangelists and six-day creationists to gay conversion camps and politically charged Biblical archaeologists, the USA’s brand of evangelicalism is powerful, vocal, belligerent, and the heart of the Trump Cult. But does its depiction in film and television reflect that? Is there truth in the fiction?

This is a post about gay conversion camps in film. 

Monday 14th September: Cult Cinema 2 – The Atrocity Tour:
the cinematic mythology of Manson, Jonestown, and Waco

Few things are as synonymous with the pop culture idea of the cult as the great cult atrocity stories: the Manson Family murders, the cult massacre at Jonestown, and the siege at Waco have become irresistible gravitational forces of narrative. In this part of the Cult Cinema series, I’m going to look at how these events have become part of the cultural lexicon and how their transformation from fact into legend has been portrayed on the screen.

Here's one of my posts about movies that approach the cult atrocities.

Monday 21st September: Cult Cinema 3 – Exiles:
the ambivalent experience of leaving

Leaving any extreme religious group is never simple. Even more mainstream ones leave their mark upon us. Churches have mechanisms of social control, even if they don't admit to them. And this is never more clear when you see what happens to people who leave, whether willingly or not. Film and TV have treated the void of leaving a religious community behind as a fertile source of story, and in this instalment of Cult Cinema we’re looking at how story shows us the pain of escape.

Here's a post about a TV series centred on a cult survivor.