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RE-Cap of Day 1, Trans-States Conference: The Art of Deception - 2nd Keynote

Day 1: 2nd Keynote by Christine Ferguson, “Esotericism Studies Beyond the Academy: Engaging the Public with The Media of Mediumship


In this presentation, Christine discusses her recent project and the collaboration of scholars and historians of esotericism with those of other academic areas, such as science and literature. She noted that at times, it’s sometimes necessary to engage with traditions and practices that may seem paradoxical, and while the concept of ‘rejection’ of esoteric and/or occult ideas may play an important role, it is not the only narrative that one finds when researching esoteric or occult movements. Her project was motivated by limitations, asking, ‘what are we prevented from seeing?’. Occultism was already enmeshed with ideas taken from science, for example with the case of Spiritualism, but was often misunderstood. In many cases, it was not only texts that were being examined, but also material culture.

Another question asked during this project was, ‘How is research impacting non-academic audiences?’. Christine notes the need for an etic-emic discourse, as well as trans-disciplinary interactions. (For example, the History of Science Museum has many materials related to Spiritualism in Britain.) For more information about this project, please visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu66XkTFjkzxzB3fOjgU_mA/featured.


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