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4th-6th December 2015

York, UK

The York Marriott Hotel provided the comfortable and welcoming venue for the
seventh Exploring the Extraordinary conference. The EtE Network, started by Dr
Madeleine Castro and Dr Hannah Gilbert, returned to its origins after last years
excursion to Gettysburg University in Pennsylvania. This was my third EtE and
shared key features with the others.

1. It is truly interdisciplinary, with speakers from psychology, sociology,
anthropology, geography, drama, theology and religious studies, history,
philosophy, and Im sure more besides. In many conferences this variety
means that there are areas of interest and areas that are of less interest. That
was not the case I sat through all 23 papers over two and a half days, and
enjoyed and learned from each one. The variety of style, content and
approach kept us going.

2. There is no particular theme, other than Exploring the Extraordinary, so the
range of papers was eclectic but somehow it works.

3. While numbers were lower than at the previous conferences, perhaps due to
its move from the Easter holidays to a term-time slot, as at previous EtE
conferences, there was little or no division into speakers and others. The
contributions from the floor played a very important part in the discussions
and provided some continuity through the different sessions.

4. The atmosphere was great it is delightful to be with like-minded people.
There was no grandstanding, and I hope all those who came felt welcomed
Im sure new friendships were forged and networks made and strengthened.

5. There was a mixture of postgraduate students, established academics at
various stages of their careers, practitioners and independent scholars. Some
people fit into more than one category. It was great to have participants from
North America as well as the UK.

6. Last but not least, the standard of presentation was uniformly high.

The conference booklet contains abstracts of the talks, but cannot convey the
sense of fun and sometimes virtuosic nature of the presentations. While it is

invidious to pick out favourites, as I genuinely enjoyed all the papers, Richard
Saville-Smiths critique of psychiatric approaches to hearing voices, and drama
teacher and novelist Chris Lamberts interweaving of autobiography, myth,
fiction and religion were certainly memorable. Vimeo recordings from previous
conferences are available on the EtE website, and in due course the
presentations from EtE7 will no doubt be added. A rumour has it that a return to
the USA is on the cards in two or three years time.

Fiona Bowie (8.12.15)