The Dead Days: Epilogue

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Thank you for joining us once again, at the end of the Dead Days, the end of the year. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our posts this week, and that your own Dead Days have been pleasant (if a little uncanny). Whatever your plans for tonight, whether you stay up to the witching hour with friends and spirits or prefer to settle in and get cosy at home, we wish you a good end to 2021 and start of 2022!

Photo by Akil Mazumder on

We’ve been talking about the liminal this week, about moments of transition, and what better example to end with than New Year’s Eve? As the clock strikes midnight and we move not just into another day but another year, it is impossible not to be aware of this moment of change, of renewal. Because of course the New Year is seen as a time of hope, a time of fresh starts and resolutions. A time to think about what you want to do differently and what you want the next year to bring.

But I think it is also a good time to remember the sense of flux and uncertainty we have been engaging with for the Dead Days. Whilst New Year’s resolutions emphasise progress and the forward arrow of time, this recurring threshold also reminds us that time is cyclical, with the events of the year always coming back around like the ghostly revenant.

So, as we move into the new year, please bring a sense of hope and a list of goals (if this is something that works for you), but do not entirely forget the lessons of the Dead Days: that we do not always and only move forwards, but cross and re-cross thresholds, getting caught on boundaries or returning constantly to one spot. That we can exist in states of in-between or even, as Marcus Sedgwick suggests in The Book of Dead Days, be ‘outside time itself’.

Megan Stephens is a first year PhD student in the School of English at the University of Sheffield, funded by the AHRC through the White Rose Consortium. She is looking at minor character deaths in contemporary fantastic film and television, thinking about the presence or lack of mourning and the value of different lives (and she promises she isn’t as morbid as this makes her sound!).