Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Conjuring Spirits or Conjuring Tricks? Explanations for Seance Phenomena in Victorian Britain

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Conjuring Spirits or Conjuring Tricks? Explanations for Seance Phenomena in Victorian Britain

Article excerpt

I acknowledge my debt to the following organizations, all of which provided funding for the project of which this article is a part: the Institut fur Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene, Freiburg, Germany; the Koestler Chair, University of Edinburgh; and the Society for Psychical Research, London.

ABSTRACT: Social historians of Victorian Britain have paid little attention to reported spiritualist phenomena, yet such phenomena, particularly those associated with Daniel Home, challenged both scientific and religious views, and attempts to explain how they were produced occupied both the minds of his contemporaries and a significant amount of column space in the periodical press. So far as the latter is representative of the former, most contemporaries regarded Home as a trickster, and they supported this view by claiming that conjurors could explain the details. Conjurors, however, do not appear to have known what was going on. Their failure to explain, no doubt along with the general rise of scientific authority, led to the discourse increasingly becoming a scientific one, yet mainstream science provided no additional clues. Although many contemporaries no doubt would have accepted the broad accusation of trickery against Home, anyone comparing the available explanations with the available evidence woul d have become increasingly aware of the gap between the two. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.