DescriptionFrom its roots with the Fox Sisters, spiritualism has attracted both believers and skeptics alike, eager to prove or to disprove the phenomenon of spirit contact. Many from both sides were quick to realise the money-making potential of this new [performance] form. This put many magicians in an interesting quandary; many were angered when they saw their closely guarded methods being used to apparently contact the dead, and equally many were angered because they didn’t think of it first.
Not to be outdone, and always on the lookout for cheap publicity, many magicians legitimised their revealing of methods (the greatest taboo in magic circles) by exposing many mediums as fraudulent in the name of science. In turn, they would demonstrate in their shows that they could also make spirit contact through secular (but hidden) methods i.e. conjuring. However, the magician was no longer making real magic, and the conjurer’s transformation into the secular gentleman magician (later codified by Professor Hoffmann) was secured.
This paper will examine the nexus of relations demonstrating; how fraudulent mediums developed and appropriated new methods to perform spirit contact; and how magicians sought to expose these methods, but also appropriate this thinking into modern, secular magic.
|31 May 2019
|Science and Spiritualism 1750 – 1930
|Leeds, United Kingdom
|Degree of Recognition
Documents & Links
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Chapter › peer-review
Research output: Non-textual form › Performance
Launch: ‘Séance: A View Through the Veil’, Ashton Carter Magic and Dr Nik Taylor, in collaboration with David Crowley (Steel Films)
Activity: Talk or presentation types › Invited talk