‘Somewhere Between Science and Superstition’: Religious Outrage, Horrific Science and The Exorcist


Dr. Amy Chambers

Wednesday 15 February 2017, 5.00PM to 6.30pm

Speaker(s): Dr Amy C. Chambers (Newcastle University, UK)

Science and religion pervade the 1973 horror The Exorcist (1973) and the film exists, as the movie’s tagline suggests, ‘somewhere between science and superstition’. Using recently released archival materials, Amy C. Chambers will show the depth of research conducted by writer/director William Friedkin in his commitment to presenting and exploring emerging scientific procedures and accurate Catholic ritual.

Where clinical and at times seemingly barbaric science fails, faith and ritual save the possessed child, Reagan MacNeil (Linda Blair) from her demons. Amy C. Chambers will discuss the ways in which The Exorcist created media frenzy with increased reports in the popular press of demon possessions, audience members convulsing and vomiting at screenings, and the apparent religious and specifically Catholic moral outrage.  

Bio: Dr Amy C. Chambers is a research associate in science communication and screen studies in the School of Geography, Politics, and Sociology at Newcastle University. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher for the inter-institutional (York, Newcastle, Aberystwyth) AHRC-funded project ‘Unsettling Scientific Stories: Expertise, Narrative, and Future Histories’ that seeks to map the history of imagined futures in speculative fiction. Her current book project explores post-classical Hollywood science-based cinema and how mainline religious groups have influenced, responded to, or appropriated cinematic science. She also researches and publishes on science fiction cinema (1967-1977), women of STEM in film and TV, participatory cinema, transmedia storytelling, film as history, and domestic horror.   

Location: TFTV/109

Admission: Free