1st Edition

The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult

Edited By Sarah Willburn, Tatiana Kontou Copyright 2012
    454 Pages
    by Routledge

    456 Pages
    by Routledge

    Critical attention to the Victorian supernatural has flourished over the last twenty-five years. Whether it is spiritualism or Theosophy, mesmerism or the occult, the dozens of book-length studies and hundreds of articles that have appeared recently reflect the avid scholarly discussion of Victorian mystical practices. Designed both for those new to the field and for experts, this volume is organized into sections covering the relationship between Victorian spiritualism and science, the occult and politics, and the culture of mystical practices. The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult brings together some of the most prominent scholars working in the field to introduce current approaches to the study of nineteenth-century mysticism and to define new areas for research.

    Contents: Foreword; Introduction, Tatiana Kontou and Sarah Willburn; Part 1 Haunted Laboratories and Ghosts in the Machine: Spiritualism, Science and Technology: Recent scholarship on spiritualism and science, Christine Ferguson; The sciences of spiritualism in Victorian Britain: possibilities and problems, Richard Noakes; The undead author: spiritualism, technology and authorship, Anthony Enns; The Victorian post-human: transmission, information and the séance, Jill Galvan; The cross-correspondences, the nature of evidence and the matter of writing, Leigh Wilson. Part 2 Occulture: Sex, Politics, Philosophy and Poetics: The evolution of occult spirituality in Victorian England and the representative case of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, J. Jeffrey Franklin; 'Out of your clinging kisses...I create a new world': sexuality and, spirituality in the work of Edward Carpenter, Joy Dixon; Socialism and occultism at the fin de siècle: elective affinities, Matthew Beaumont; William James: belief in ghosts, Christoforos Diakoulakis; The turn of the gyres: alterity in The Gift of Haroun Al-Rashid and A Thousand and One Nights, Mazen Naous. Part 3 Staging the Victorian Afterlife: from Magic Shows to Dinner Parties: The case of Florence Marryat: custodian of the Spirit World/popular novelist, Tatiana Kontou; 'Gentleman mountebanks' and spiritualists: legal, stage and media contests between magicians and spirit mediums in the United States and England, Erika White Dyson; Mirth as medium: spectacles of laughter in the Victorian séance room, Mackenzie Bartlett; 'Eating, feeding, and flesh: food in Victorian Spiritualism, Marlene Tromp; ’The dear old sacred terror’: spiritualism and the supernatural from The Bostonians to The Turn of the Screw, Bridget Bennett; ’The sublimation of matter into spirit’: Anna Mary Howitt’s automatic drawings, Rachel Oberter; Viewing history and fantasy through Victorian spirit photography, Sarah Willburn; Bibliography; Index.


    Tatiana Kontou is Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature at Oxford Brookes University, UK, and Sarah Willburn is an independent scholar living in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.

    'This is an outstanding guide to the current state of scholarship in an area that has become central to our understanding of nineteenth-century culture. The editors have put together a well-conceived array of essays on a range of spiritualist and occult practices, and the individual essays are uniformly well-informed and smart. Both experts in the field and students will find it extremely valuable.' Adela Pinch, University of Michigan, USA '... the editors and contributors have delivered firstclass research. Seen as a mostly literary research companion for academics and students, it admirably fulfils its role.' Fortean Times What is refreshing about this volume by Kontou and Willburn is that it not only synthesises existing research from many of the top scholars in the field, but it also introduces new areas for study...[covering] a vast range of topics that have the potential to enthuse new students as well as informing on-going research in the field.’ Journal of Victorian Culture '... a welcome addition. [It] ... introduces new theoretical and conceptual models in thinking about spiritual and cultural practices of the long nineteenth century. ... the collection offers an excellent point of entry into the topic of Victorian mysticism.' Victorian Studies '[This book] will naturally be of interest to scholars of the fantastic. Well chosen and scrupulously edited, it is a good choice for libraries ... The breadth and depth of Tantou and Willburn's scholarship and that of their contributors makes this a useful and engaging work.' Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts