1st Edition

Altered Consciousness in the Twentieth Century

Edited By Jake Poller Copyright 2019
    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    The twentieth century saw an unprecedented spike in the study of altered states of consciousness. New ASCs, such as those associated with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, were cultivated and studied, while older ASCs were given new classifications: out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, psychokinesis, extrasensory perception.  Altered Consciousness in the Twentieth Century analyses these different approaches and methodologies, and includes exciting new research into neglected areas.

    This volume investigates the representation of ASCs in the culture of the twentieth century and examines the theoretical models that attempt to explain them. The international contributors critically examine a variety of ASCs, including precognition, near-death experiences, telepathy, New Age ‘channelling’, contact with aliens and UFOs, the use of alcohol and entheogens, analysing both the impact of ASCs on the culture and how cultural and technological changes influenced ASCs. The contributors are drawn from the fields of English and American literature, religious studies, Western esotericism, film studies, sociology and history of art, and bring to bear on ASCs their own disciplinary and conceptual perspectives, as well as a broader interdisciplinary knowledge of the subject. The collection represents a vital contribution to the growing body of work on both ASCs and the wider academic engagement with millennialism, entheogens, occulture and the paranormal.


    Jake Poller

    Mapping the Psyche

    1. Writing in the Space Between: Life After Death in the Fiction of Richard Matheson

    Jennie Chapman

    2. Psionic Boom: John W. Campbell, Astounding Science Fiction and ‘psi-powers’ in

    post-war science fiction

    Brian Baker

    3. Everyday Magic: Surrealism and Parapsychology

    Gavin Parkinson

    4. Precognition as a Problem of Heredity in the 1930s

    kitt price

    5. Divining the Distant Past: Altered Consciousness, the Paranormal, and


    Olav Hammer


    6. Alice A. Bailey and the Consciousness of the New Age

    Tim Rudbøg

    7. The Herald of the Christ: Benjamin Creme and the Theosophical Imagination

    Jake Poller

    8. Prism of Lyra: UFO Consciousness and Portals to Cosmic Awareness

    Andrew Fergus Wilson


    9. Carlos Castaneda and the Construction of Non-Ordinary Reality

    Christopher Partridge

    10. ‘The prophetic discernment of what is possible’: Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of

    Perception and Bergsonian Mysticism

    11. Altered Consciousness in Easy Rider and Altered States: A Historical and

    Phenomenological Analysis

    Kevin Fisher

    12. ‘Damned voice in my head’: Jean Rhys and Drunken Consciousness

    Steven Earnshaw


    Jake Poller recently contributed a chapter to The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947 (Routledge, 2018). His articles have appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, including Aries, Literature and Theology, D.H. Lawrence Review and the Aldous Huxley Annual.