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Technology and spiritualism in nineteenth to twenty-first-century art and culture
Editors: Sas Mays and Neil Matheson

Within the visual arts, speculation concerning the paranormal, haunting, spiritualism, and spirit photography expanded enormously in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Focusing on people's complex relationship with technology, this book explores our culture's continued fascination with the spectral, the ghostly and the paranormal. Informed by history and the visual tradition of spiritualism and psychical research, it cites that tradition within our contemporary concerns, such as landscape and environment, and recent technological developments. The book discusses the role of vitalism in contemporary theory, reflecting on what Bergson's interest in spiritualism suggests about the historical and theoretical complexities that lie behind the current uses of vitalism. It examines the twitching gestural engagements with a variety of devices, instruments, and technologies, including the typewriter, the pianola, the slate, and the phonograph. The book highlights that spiritualist phenomena are the result of mendacity on the one side and credulous belief on the other; Dada photomontage the result of painfully keen-eyed despair and a powerful drive to experiment. Resiting spirit photography and the production of 'ectoplasm' within the theatrical tradition of melodrama, the book considers spiritualist manifestations in terms of 'performances for camera'. It pays attention to exhibitions, staged in galleries in the UK and the United States between 2003 and 2007, which paired spirit photographs with examples of contemporary art photography. Finally, the book considers various spectral emanations moving across space and time, and across different discourses the work of John Ruskin, to discuss the relations between haunting and ecological catastrophe.

Open Access (free)
Spiritualism and the Atlantic divide
Bridget Bennett

5 Crossing over: spiritualism and the Atlantic divide Bridget Bennett A joke has it that spiritualists first crossed the water in order to get to the other side. Despite its obvious shortcomings, it does suggest a more serious imperative: the investigation of how reading nineteenth-century spiritualism within a transatlantic context might be a highly revelatory activity, might indeed reveal something more interesting than we have hitherto considered about what crossing the Atlantic meant to spiritualists. Nineteenth-century spiritualism is routinely described as

in Special relationships
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An image of such politics
Author: Sonja Tiernan

More than eighty years after her death, the name of Eva Gore- Booth is still known. This book is the first dedicated biography of the extraordinary Irish woman, who rejected her aristocratic heritage choosing to live and work amongst the poorest classes in industrial Manchester. Her close bond with her sister, an iconic Irish nationalist, provides a new insight into Countess Markievicz's personal life. Living in an environment receptive to occult beliefs, Eva became preoccupied by spiritualism and believed she developed a psychic ability. Many historians and literary critics have credited Eva's interest in the occult to the influence of Yeats. Gore-Booth published volumes of poetry, philosophical prose and plays, becoming a respected and prolific author of her time and part of W.B. Yeats' literary circle. Her work on behalf of barmaids, circus acrobats, flower sellers and pit-brow lasses is traced in the book. During one impressive campaign Gore-Booth orchestrated the defeat of Winston Churchill. Her life story vividly traces her experiences of issues such as militant pacifism during the Great War, the case for the reprieve of Roger Casement's death sentence, sexual equality in the workplace and the struggle for Irish independence. The story of her revolutionary life shows a person devoted to the ideal of a free and independent Ireland and a woman with a deep sense of how class and gender equality can transform lives and legislation.

Recording technologies and automisation
Aura Satz

2 Typewriter, pianola, slate, phonograph: recording technologies and automisation Aura Satz It is well known that the raps of the Fox sisters in 1848 in the United States inaugurated spiritualism’s profusion of percussive sounds spelling out words, corresponding to and indeed on occasion adopting the Morse code of telegraphy, first transmitted in 1844. The rapping sounds themselves, produced either by knocking on a hard surface (or, as the Fox sisters later confessed, by the cracking of knuckles or joints), were a gestural pre-figuration, echo, and imitation of

in The machine and the ghost
Henri Bergson, psychical research, and the contemporary uses of vitalism
Justin Sausman

formation in 1882 in order to subject late-Victorian occultism to the experimental methods of the natural sciences. In this context, a number of studies, exploring parallels between electrically transmitted living voices and mediumistically transmitted dead voices, suggest that spiritualism was viewed in technological rather than super­ natural terms.2 Yet less attention has been paid to the ways in which psychical researchers used this technologised language not only as an analogical explanation but as a direct description. In other words, if mediums are like machines

in The machine and the ghost
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Technologies, spiritualisms, and modernities
Sas Mays and Neil Matheson

Introduction: technologies, spiritualisms, and modernities Sas Mays and Neil Matheson The world often looks quite spectral to me; sometimes, as in Regent Street the other night (my nerves being all shattered), quite hideous, discordant, almost infernal. (From the journal of Thomas Carlyle, July 18351) The Machine and the Ghost emerged from a research project entitled ‘Spiritualism and Technology in Historical and Contemporary Contexts’, convened at the University of Westminster during 2009–10 in conjunction with members of the Society for Psychical Research

in The machine and the ghost
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Simplicity, sensuality and politics in Henry Thoreau
Alison Hulme

therefore may have been primarily driven by spiritualism, but was bound up in the ways that capitalism, specifically, disenabled such spiritualism. Luxuries, for Thoreau, were indeed positive hindrances to the spiritual elevation of mankind, but forsaking them was also about taking back the time required under capitalism to earn money for luxuries. In Walden he states, ‘the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it immediately or in the long run’ (2012:18). Singh’s interpretation of this is useful here. He argues ‘the

in A brief history of thrift
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Sensing death in symbolist theatre
Adrian Curtin

range of art-forms, including theatre. In the fin de siècle, spiritualism was in vogue, and so the subjects of mortality and the afterlife were addressed with renewed interest. Spiritualists claimed to be able to contact the dead, thus proving that death did not mean the end of life but simply marked a transformation from a corporeal to a non-corporeal state of being. Scientists endeavoured to ascertain if there was any truth to spiritualists’ supposed abilities to contact the dead. In this way, the meaning of death was contested and put into flux. Symbolists tapped

in Death in modern theatre
Childhood and Lissadell
Sonja Tiernan

. They appear to have dealt with these tragedies through a strong belief in the spiritual afterlife. During the 1860s spiritualism and the occult were becoming fashionable among the elite set in London who thrilled at attending séances and table rapping events. The premature deaths of his wife and son had led Eva’s grandfather to investigate spiritualism, possibly in the hope of contacting those who had died. While staying at Buckingham Gate, Sir Robert employed the services of one of the most infamous spiritualists in England, Daniel Dunglas Home. Home had an

in Eva Gore-Booth
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Belief and agency in wartime
Lucy Noakes

of complementary and alternative belief systems. Heterodox beliefs co-existed with, and were • 101 • Dying for the nation often intermeshed with, a predominantly Christian public culture. In this ‘promiscuous eclecticism’, as Michael Snape and Stephen Parker have termed it, spiritualism consoled many with its promise of continued contact with the dead, and organisations like the Theosophical Society offered an alternate world view and philosophy that in many ways preceded the ‘new age’ movements of the 1960s.3 Astrology had gained a new following and wider

in Dying for the nation