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Haunting Humanities draws Lawrence crowd for spooky, science fair-style fun

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Haunting Humanities was back this year to frighten, entertain and educate community members during the Halloween season.

The University of Kansas’ Hall Center for the Humanities hosts the science fair-like festival annually. The event provides ways for humanities researchers to engage with the public through performances, games, storytelling, and even an escape room.

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This year’s festival, held Wednesday at Abe & Jake’s Landing, included several displays on the theme of the “Lawrence Center Maul” — the “Mall Wars” from 1978 to 1990, which attempted to “maul” Downtown Lawrence by building an enclosed shopping mall in Lawrence.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times A mall graveyard — a display of failed malls — was one of the exhibits during Haunting Humanities.

In the “Wakarusa War Time Machine,” living historians representing Lawrencians from 170 years ago discussed their clothing, gear, and other artifacts with event attendees.

The Wakarusa War began in 1855 over whether to make Kansas a free or slave state, “and it happened right here in Lawrence, on the ground we walk every day,” according to the event pamphlet.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times A living statue high-fives a child during Haunting Humanities.

KU’s Department of Classics invited attendees to learn about ancient Greek and Roman magic with their “Cursed Classics” exhibit.

Participants were taught how to smite their enemies or craft a love charm and to use their new knowledge to decode a spell. They could enter a drawing to win a prize.

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Molly Adams / Lawrence Times

Wanwan Cai of the Lawrence Arts Center performed “Farewell My King,” which tells the tragic story of King Xian Yu and his concubine, Yu Ji.

Preparing to face defeat in battle, King Xian bade farewell to Yu Ji, who begged to stay with the king and die alongside him when suddenly she seized his sword and ended her own life.

Other interactive exhibits included an art-based exploration of one’s own fears, crafting campfire stories, a quiz to find your literary and film horror genre, a villain guessing game, unfinished projects “from the Black Lagoon” and much more.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times

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Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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