Lisa Morton

Nov 28, 2022

Calling the Spirits

A History of Seances

Reaktion Books 2022

From Halloween expert Lisa Morton, bring us Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances (Reaktion, 2022), a level-headed and entertaining history of our desire and attempts to hold conversations with the dead. Calling the Spirits investigates the eerie history of our conversations with the dead, from necromancy in Homer’s Odyssey to the emergence of Spiritualism—when Victorians were entranced by mediums and the seance was born. Among our cast are the Fox sisters, teenagers surrounded by “spirit rappings”; Daniel Dunglas Home, the “greatest medium of all time”; Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose unlikely friendship was forged, then riven, by the afterlife; and Helen Duncan, the medium whose trial in 1944 for witchcraft proved more popular to the public than news about the war. The book also considers Ouija boards, modern psychics, and paranormal investigations, and is illustrated with engravings, fine art (from beyond), and photographs. Hugely entertaining, it begs the question: is anybody there . . . ?

Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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Jana Byars

Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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