Mary Flanagan on ghosts


Questions on is a new column in which fields asks writers and artists about what questions they might have on a certain topic. We then post their questions here, like an open-ended problem set. Feel free to answer these questions and add to the discussion on our Facebook page.

Mary Flanagan is an inventor, artist, designer, and the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College. There, her teaching focuses on interactive art, game design, and digital culture. She is the author of the 2017 book, Ghost Sentence, in which she uses poetry, found text, and scrambled articles from political websites to cover the chaos between the 2016 election and the 2017 inauguration. Here, she asks six questions on what it means to be a ghost.

1. What does a ghost have to teach you?

2. Petrarch was in love his whole life with a woman named Laura, who he never really spoke to. Can you be haunted by potential love?

3.  Do ghosts do boring everyday things, or dramatic things? Do they push red wheelbarrows?

4. These days when we think of ghosting we think not of a haunted house but of a suitor who vanishes in thin air. Are they really ghosts, and if so what are you left with?

5. If you were a ghost, who or what would you haunt, and why?

6. What method of communication would you use if you were a ghost?

A selection of Mary’s essays and articles can be found on her website.

Photography by Daniel Q. Adel.