Science and Spiritualism, 1750-1930

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Efram Sera-Shriar, Leeds Trinity University

Science and Spiritualism, 1750-1930

The Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies is pleased to announce a two-day conference, to take place at Leeds Trinity University on 30 and 31 May 2019. We are delighted to have Professor Christine Ferguson (University of Stirling), and Professor Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck, University of London) as our keynote speakers.

D.D. Home levitates himself in front of witnesses in the home of Ward Cheney in South Manchester, Connecticut on 8 August 1852. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Since the emergence of modern mediumship in the middle of the nineteenth century, science and spiritualism have been interwoven. Sceptics and believers alike have investigated spirit and psychic phenomena to determine its legitimacy. This two-day interdisciplinary conference will explore the history of the intersection of science and spiritualism during the long nineteenth century.


Key scholarship includes:

  • Ferguson, Christine, Determined Spirits: Eugenics, Heredity and Racial Regeneration in Anglo-American Spiritualist Writings 1848-1930, Edinburgh University Press, 2012.

  • Lamont, Peter, Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem, Cambridge University Press, 2013

  • Luckhurst, Roger, The Invention of Telepathy, 1870-1901, Oxford University Press, 2002

  • McCorristine, Shane, Spectres of the Self: Thinking about Ghosts and Ghost-Seeing in

    England, 1750-1920, Cambridge University Press, 2010

  • Oppenheim, Janet, The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England,

    1850-1914, Cambridge University Press, 1985

  • Owen, Alex, The Darkened Room: Women, Power and Spiritualism in Late Victorian

    England, University of Chicago Press, 2004
    We welcome proposals from any discipline, covering any geographic region.Possible topics include:

  • Scientific investigations at séances

  • Scientific literature on spirit and psychic phenomena

  • Technology and spiritualism (such as photography, telegraphy, telephony)

  • Medicine and spiritualism (such as studies in physiology and psychology)

  • Shamanism, animism and spiritualism in anthropology

  • Science, spiritualism and the periodical press

  • Cultures of science and religion and its connection to spiritualism

  • Spiritualism and material culture (such as haunted objects or locations)

  • Contesting cultural authority in spiritualism cases

  • Scientific experiments on spiritualism

  • Crisis of evidence in spirit and psychic investigations

  • Magicians and spiritualism (such as exposing fraud through replicating tricks)

  • Science and spiritualism in literature (such as Browning’s Mr Sludge)

  • Scientists as spiritualists and spiritualists as scientists


Please send a 250-word abstract, along with contact information to e.sera- The Deadline for submission is 15 November 2018.

Some small travel bursaries will be available to postgraduate and early career scholars. If you would like to be considered for one, please include a short expression of interest detailing your research, and how this conference will be of benefit to you.

If you have any questions about the event please get in touch via email at