Diane Rodgers Researcher Blog: Reflections on the Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic in Todmorden, Sat 1st October 2022
About the Author
Diane A. Rodgers is a Senior Lecturer in Media, Arts and Communications at Sheffield Hallam University and a CCRI PhD candidate conducting doctoral research relating to folklore and folk horror in ‘wyrd’ 1970s British Film and Television.
As a co-founder of the Centre for Contemporary Legend (CCL) and part of the CCMS Cultural Heritage Research Group, I was honoured to be invited to speak about my research on the communication of folklore in children’s television at the Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic (CFMM) in Todmorden, on Sat 1st October 2022.
The Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic has been established recently in Todmorden by local facilitator and folklore enthusiast Holly Elsdon. The CFMM has provided a space for folklore exploration and research by becoming the home of two library collections: Mythstories and The Society for Storytelling (both collections having been relocated from The Museum of Myth and Fable in Shrewsbury, including books and the storytelling doll collection of the late Trinidadian author and storyteller Grace Hallworth). The Centre also has been granted access to a digital archive of performance storytelling from the London Centre for International Storytelling/Crick Crack Club and, in collaboration with archaeologist Debora Moretti from the West Yorkshire Archaeological Society, hopes to house an archive of all the folklore records for sites of historical interest across West Yorkshire.
Since the CFMM’s launch event, a symposium on ‘The Witch’ (attended by another of SHU’s CCL co-founders David Clarke), the Centre maintains close links with the Centre for Contemporary Legend at Sheffield Hallam University, as well as having support from The Folklore Society, The Folklore Library and Archive and The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
Having observed the journey of the CFMM in Todmorden being set up from scratch by Holly via social media, I was extremely impressed with the space when I arrived – the downstairs is a cosily laid-out bakery and tearoom (which shares large exhibition and event space with the CFMM), whilst the upstairs is a magical library space full of curios, spooky oddities and wall-to-wall folkloric books aimed at all ages. It’s obvious that a lot of hard work and passion have gone into curating the space, beautifully decorated and complete with a reading nook for children.
I was delighted to receive such a large and warm audience for my talk, attended by around 70-80 members of the public, there were no chairs to spare! My presentation, titled ‘Generation Hexed’, examined television in the 1970s, bursting at the seams with weirdness, eeriness, supernatural folklore and contemporary legend, and it’s impact on those working in various forms of contemporary media today. The importance and value of children’s television has been an area traditionally overlooked, which modern scholars aim to redress not only in relation to screen studies but also with reference to folklore studies and wider social and cultural implications. I spoke about why supernatural folklore was so prevalent in 1970s media and how it has been represented on screen, using Children of the Stones (1977) “the scariest programme ever made for children” as a case study example.
There were many wonderful observations, questions, discussions and contact details exchanged following the presentation, showing a continued genuine public thirst for interest in folklore in the media and all things ‘wyrd’. I am grateful to Holly for inviting me to speak and long may our folkloric collaborations continue!
For more information on the Centre for Folklore Myth and Magic, please click here.
To find out more about the Centre for Contemporary Legend at Sheffield Hallam University, please click here.