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Archive for April, 2008

Below are the images shown in the last meeting on Mesmerism and Spiritualism that were not part of the previous spirit photography post.

For those interested in the history of spirit photography there are two books in Fisher Library which are excellent sources of information in this phenomena. The images and captions below a taken from Chéroux

  • Click on images for a larger version

Mumler - Cartes de visiteMumler Carte de Visite

William H. Mumler, United States, two pages from an album of 112 cartes de visite and cabinet cards 1870-75. Eight albumen silver prints 10 x 6 cm approx (each) 28 x 20.3 cm (album page). The College of Psychic Studies, London.

Top Right Right: ‘’Mary Todd Lincoln with the spirit of her husband, President Abraham Lincoln’ 1870-75 Abraham Lincoln died in 1865. She was known for her interest in Spiritualism and is said to have held seances at the White House. She visited Mumler’s studio under the assumed name Mrs Lindall and obtained a spirit portrait of her late husband. This carte de visite was widely reprinted and circulated.

Top Right Left: Master Herrod with the spirits of Europe, Africa and America. According to Mumler ‘Master Herrod’ ws a young medium whose trance in front of the camera called up the spirits of Europe, Africa and America. American spiritualism recognised the prominent place given to spirits in Native American and African cultures, and this image illustrates the kinship they felt toward their spiritual traditions.

Reeves, UK, Album page with four spirit photographs 1872. Four albumen silver prints, The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York
Reeves, UK, Album page with four spirit photographs 1872. Four albumen silver prints, The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

John Beattie, UK
John Beattie, UK, Spiritualist Séance, June 1872, two albumen silver prints 9 x 6 xm approx each, American Philosophical Society Library, Philidelphia. Beattie, a professional photographer and spiritualist, organised his own seances as controlled experiments. The phenomena shown in his images, which are very different from Hudson’s are usually abstract light forms. These two photographs show Beattie (seated on the left) Mr Butland (the medium) in the middle and two witnesses. Dr Thompson and Mr Thommy on the right.

Katie King, spirit guide of Florence Cook
William Crookes, UK
Left: Portrait of Katie King, (Florence Cook) 1874
Right: William Crookes and Katie King

Astral body trickery
Paul Nadar and Albert De Rochas, France, 1896, Astral body through trickery. Portrait of Albert de Rochas.
Nadar and Rochas demonstrate how it was possible to obtain an ‘astral body through trickery.’

Effluvia from a hand resting on a photographic plate
Adrien Majewski, France, 1898-99
Effluvia from a hand resting on a photographic plate
A magnetiser and well-known healer, Majewski made several series of experiments in 1898 and 1899 to record the magnetic fluid – contemporary accounts mention its rare powers – on a sensitised plate. The photographs were mostly obtained by the process called humid, in which the sensitised plate was immersed in a hydro-quinone bath the side covered with gelatin facing downward. The hand was resting on the glass side of the plate or was held a few centimeters away. The pose generally lasted 20 mins.

dn

emission and resorbtion of ectoplasmic substance through the mouthemission and resorbtion of ectoplasmic substance through the mouth
Circa 1913 – medium Stanislawa : emission and resorbtion of ectoplasmic substance through the mouth

emission and resorbtion of ectoplasmic substance through the mouthmission and resorbtion of ectoplasmic substance through the mouth
Circa 1913 – medium Stanislawa : emission and resorbtion of ectoplasmic substance through the mouth

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This week’s topic is the Victorian Occult Revival. The selected readings deal with the popular nineteenth century movements of Mesmerism & Spiritualism.

Please feel free to add your comments about this weeks readings.


Reading 1:

Poe’s poetry often deals with macabre subjects reflecting his fascination with death and its dramatic possibilities. The exploration of the boundaries of death and the human spirit lay at the heart of the Victorian occult revival, out of which the Spiritualist and Mesmerist movements emerged.

Several of Poe’s short stories explore the popular fascination with mesmerism. “Mesmerism in Articulo Mortis,” later retitled “THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR,” was originally published in 1845 and created a stir. English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote to a friend that the story was “going the rounds of the newspapers, about mesmerism, throwing us all into the most admired disorder or dreadful doubts about whether it can be true.”

According to Robert C. Fuller’s Mesmerism and the American Cure of Souls (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982), Poe first encountered mesmerism by attending a lecture of Andrew Jackson Davis, one of the founders of Spiritualism.

Wikipedia entry for this reading>


Reading 2:


Reading 3:

This reading is a great short introduction into the concepts of Spiritualism and its implications within the social and gendered boundaries of Victorian society.

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Below are images from Martyn Jolly’s book, Faces of the Living Dead: The belief in Spirit Photography, in which he explores the popular phenomenon of spirit photography that first emerged in the 1870s. Spirit photography reflected the popularity of Spiritualism and the widespread fascination with the quasi-scientific exploration of the existence of life after death. These photographs feature famous Victorian mediums Florence Cook and Annie Mellon along with the prolific advocate of the Spiritualist movement, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

  • Click on the images for larger versions

Florence Cook lying in a trance, with a spirit form behind her, c. 1874. Albumen silver photograph, Mary Evans Picture Library

Mrs Mellon \'Cissie\', from a photograph taken at Edinburgh by Mr Stewart Smith on 3 September, 1890. Half-tone reproduction from Thomas Shekleton Henry, Spookland!, 1894, British Library, London

Annie Mellon and ‘Cissie,’ from a photograph taken at Edinburgh by Mr Stewart Smith on 3 September, 1890. Half-tone reproduction from Thomas Shekleton Henry, Spookland!, 1894, British Library, London

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with psychic extra, c.1922. Gelatin silver photograph, Barlow Collection, British Library London

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with psychic extra, c.1922. Gelatin silver photograph, Barlow Collection, British Library London

Farrell Family Foundation Donation

Samual Guppy (left) & the medium Charles Williams and a spirit, c. 1892, Carte-de-visite in album page, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Photography Fund: Farrell Family Foundation Donation

Farell Family Foundation donation

Spirit of Indian Syna and Misses Wood and Fairlamb, c. 1874. Carte-de-visite, albumen photograph in album page, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Photography Fund: Farell Family Foundation donation

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The Humanities and Modern History Departments at Macquarie University are holding a symposium on the Victorians on Wednesday July 23 2008. It looks really interesting and will focus on what it is about the Victorians that is most interesting to a contemporary audience.

Lots of topics that members of this group could present on-200 word abstracts due 16 May 2008

Click here for the PDF invitation

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First Readings

Below are the first readings for the meeting on Friday – please feel free to start an online discussion about either of these readings. If you do not already have a WordPress account it’s free and easy to sign up – this will allow you to add comments to this blog.

Please contact me (Naomi Morris) if you have any queries about downloading these documents or using this blog.

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Greg Dening’s Theories of Ethnohistory

Reading 1:

Rethinking History Journal

Greg Dening, Writing, Rewriting the Beach: an essay, from Rethinking History 2:2, 1998, 143-172

Or

Google books link>

Reading 2:

0226142981.jpeg

Greg Dening, Performances, Melbourne University Press, 1996, 3-38

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