Altered Consciousness in the Twentieth Century: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Altered Consciousness in the Twentieth Century

1st Edition

Edited by Jake Poller


276 pages

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Hardback: 9780367183769
pub: 2019-02-25
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pub: 2019-02-21
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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 collectionrepresents a vital contribution to the growing body of work on both ASCs and the wider academic engagement with millennialism, entheogens, occulture and the paranormal.

Table of Contents


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

About the Editor

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.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature

From Joyce to Rushdie, Modernism to Food Writing, Routledge Studies in Twentieth Century Literature looks at both the literature and culture of the 20th century. This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Considering literature alongside religion, popular culture, race, gender, ecology, travel, class, space, and other subjects, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

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