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Utilizing a variety of unexplored archival fabric, this ebook examines the 'spectral' effect of Victorian spiritualism and Psychical learn on women's writing, analysing the ways that smooth writers have either subverted and mimicked 19th century assets of their evocation of the seance.
Read or Download Spiritualism and Women's Writing: From the fin de Siècle to the neo-Victorian PDF
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Extra resources for Spiritualism and Women's Writing: From the fin de Siècle to the neo-Victorian
Whereas physical mediumship was ‘iconolatric’ in its representation of gender (moustaches and top hats for men, long flowing hair and veils for women), gender characteristics were communicated more subtly through the nuances of the voice in mental mediumship. It is therefore clear that in the theatre, as well as in the world of the SPR, we have a kind of double motion in play. The emphasis on the inner workings of the psyche was projected ‘outwards’, as it were, as the actress and the medium began to be associated more with talent or genius rather than their physical being.
As the medium was inhabited by the personalities of the dead, she was also the hidden source of authority in the ‘textual’ networks of Psychical Research (the documentation of otherworldly voices and events). Indeed, in a deliciously ironic twist, Gurney, Myers and Stead all attempted to make contact with the living after their deaths – controlled and channelled through the mediums they had once investigated. This curious reversal from beyond the grave undermines their power as researchers and reinforces the position of the medium as transmitter and ‘author’ (Luckhurst, 2002, pp.
Expanding further, both Phantasms of the Living (1886) and Human Personality are paradigmatic of the SPR’s attempts to detach itself from supernatural or ‘gothic’ allusions and to construct new, systematic theories that would develop the study of consciousness further. In Phantasms, which Edmund Gurney authored with the assistance of Myers and Podmore, apparitions are conceived of not as communications from the dead but from persons who are very much alive. The premise that Gurney and company supported was that these ‘phantasms’ were produced through telepathic projection at moments of great danger, ill health or stress for the recipient.