Geek Speak lecture at BHSU investigates historical versus modern Halloween traditions

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, October 27, 2014/Categories: 2014

Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the Black Hills State University Honors Program, delves into the history and hype of Halloween during this week's Geek Speak lecture Thursday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. in room 110 of Jonas Hall on the BHSU campus.  

Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, assistant professor of English, will explore the past and present-day celebrations of Halloween during Thursday's Geek Speak Lecture at Black Hills State University.  A costume contest will follow the lecture.

The lecture will be held Thursday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall room 110 on the BHSU campus.

According to Huse Wika, also director of BHSU's University Honors Program which sponsors the Geek Speak lecture series, the roots of Halloween tradition were to celebrate the abundance of harvest and usher in the long, dark days of winter.  

"Our American Halloween is a far cry from its origins," said Huse Wika.  "Yet each of our Halloween traditions can be traced back to a specific practice or ritual."

Many of those practices and rituals can be historically linked to either the Celtic Festival of Samhain or the Roman Festival of Pomona, according to Huse Wika.

"The juxtaposition between festivals that acknowledged the precariousness of existence for agricultural civilizations versus the astonishing excess of America's festival of Walmart and name brand candy is fascinating," she said.

BHSU students requested Halloween as a topic for this year's Geek Speak line-up.  

Titled "Practical Magic:  The Myths and Rituals of Halloween," Huse Wika says this lecture topic resonates with her previous lectures including the historical and literary vampire and current zombie trends as well as her work with monster theory, the reading of monsters as projections of society's current fears and desires.

"I am a fan of the dark and twisty, so this was a good fit," said Huse Wika.

Students, community members, faculty and staff are invited to wear their Halloween costumes to the lecture.  A prize-based costume contest will be judged by a panel of faculty.

Upcoming Geek Speak topics:
Nov. 6 - "For pairs of lips to kiss maybe/Involves no trigonometry:  Mathematics and Poetry" hosted by Dr. Dan May
Nov. 13 - "Lincoln and Gettysburg:  From Rhetorical Artistry to National Totem" hosted by Dr. Adam Gaffey
Nov. 20 - "The Geek Chic" hosted by Dr. Robb Campbell
Dec. 4 - The Fall Defense

To confirm topics, dates, and room numbers, check the BHSU Campus Calendar at

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or

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