Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture

Hardcover | February 3, 2016

bySimone Natale

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In Supernatural Entertainments, Simone Natale vividly depicts spiritualism’s rise as a religious and cultural phenomenon and explores its strong connection to the growth of the media entertainment industry in the nineteenth century. He frames the spiritualist movement as part of a new commodity culture that changed how public entertainments were produced and consumed.

Starting with the story of the Fox sisters, considered the first spiritualist mediums in history, Natale follows the trajectory of spiritualism in Great Britain and the United States from its foundation in 1848 to the beginning of the twentieth century. He demonstrates that spiritualist mediums and leaders adopted many of the promotional strategies and spectacular techniques that were being developed for the broader entertainment industry. Spiritualist mediums were indistinguishable from other professional performers, as they had managers and agents, advertised in the press, and used spectacularism to draw audiences.

Addressing the overlap between spiritualism’s explosion and nineteenth-century show business, Natale provides an archaeology of how the supernatural became a powerful force in the media and popular culture of today.

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In Supernatural Entertainments, Simone Natale vividly depicts spiritualism’s rise as a religious and cultural phenomenon and explores its strong connection to the growth of the media entertainment industry in the nineteenth century. He frames the spiritualist movement as part of a new commodity culture that changed how public entertain...

Simone Natale is Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough University, UK.

other books by Simone Natale

Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:February 3, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271071044

ISBN - 13:9780271071046

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part 1: Configurations of Séances

1 The Medium on the Stage: Theatricality and Performance in the Spirit Séance

2 Parlor Games: Play and Social Life in the Haunted House

Part 2: How to Sell a Spirit

3 Breaking the News: Controversy, Sensation, and the Popular Press

4 Mediums and Stars: Religion, Consumerism, and Celebrity Culture

Part 3: Spirit and Matter

5 Stranger than Fiction: Print Media, Automatic Writing, and Popular Culture

6 The Marvels of Superimposition: Spirit Photography and Spiritualism’s Visual Culture

Afterward

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“An erudite, original examination of Victorian spiritualism and the rise of modern media. . . . This entertaining study fills a gap in the slighted investigation of spiritualism’s rise as a religious and cultural phenomenon. Highly recommended.”

—D. B. Wilmeth, Choice