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Walking with the Archives: Mapping Newfoundland Identity through Ghost Stories and Folklore Open Access


Other title
ghost stories
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Johnston, Andrea G
Supervisor and department
Mackey, Margaret (Library Studies)
Quamen, Harvey (Humanities Computing)
Examining committee member and department
Engel, Maureen (Humanities Computing)
Worrall, Adam (Library Studies)
Humanities Computing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts/Master of Library and Information Studies
Degree level
Guy Debord defines psychogeography as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals” (23). My project examines the psychogeography of Newfoundland’s ghost stories—what I am calling “para-psychogeography” —to show the strong relationship between place, identity and stories. In order to examine this relationship, I have built a mock-up of a mobile application that maps the ghost stories and folktales —the para-psychogeography— of Ferryland, Newfoundland. Artifacts from the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Folklore and Language Archives (which include newspaper and magazine articles, personal experience narratives, beliefs and practices, oral histories, and folk narratives and customs) are linked to the map in accordance to each story's location to facilitate a better understanding of the strong relationship between place and identity, the phenomenon first articulated by Guy Debord. My app is built using the platform FluidUI and is evaluated on how well the software can assist in creating a mock-up of an app that can showcase archival materials. Further, I re-interpret my own knowledge of Ferryland and the distinct identity that the town, and indeed, that the entire province demonstrates in its literature, its folktales, and its tales of the supernatural. This project builds on my undergraduate honors thesis by understanding how the literature of Newfoundland “[reminds] Newfoundlanders, Labradorians, and Canadians, in general, that the province is a special place with a stubborn local nationalism that has deep historical roots. Canada, it might be argued, began here” (Hiller 143). The sharing of stories, especially stories exploring similar or identical ghostly experiences (for example, the popularity of The Old Hag tales), facilitates an understanding of Newfoundland identity through the para-psychogeography of the town of Ferryland for not only do ghost stories and folktales include traces of past emotional experiences of a particular place, they are also significant for "[m]yths (and fairy tales, which are degenerated myths) hold the wisdom of a culture. They reflect how the individual relates to his or her culture and to the universe; they are archetypal encounters and comprise a language of the psyche. Without myths, [ghost stories and folktales,] a society decays" (Guiley 393). Ghost stories and folktales are vital to the creation of a unique identity, and perhaps nowhere more so than Newfoundland.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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