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Popular Occulture in Britain 1875-1947

Participant biographies

Principal Investigator

CHRISTINE FERGUSON is a Professor in English Literature at the University of Stirling, where her research focuses on the entwined histories of the literary gothic and the British occult revival in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Her publications include the books Determined Spirits: Eugenics, Heredity, and Racial Regeneration in Angl0-American Spiritualist Writing 1848-1930 (2012) and Language, Science, and Popular Fiction in the Victorian Fin de Siècle (2006); she is the editor of Spiritualism, Health, Race, and Human Variation (2014), a volume in Routledge’s Spiritualism 1840-1930 facsimile edition series, and, with Andrew Radford, The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947 (forthcoming 2018). She is currently at work on a new project on the popular fiction networks and periodical culture of the Victorian occult revival.


ANDREW RADFORD lectures in the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow. His research focuses primarily on British interwar women writers and the occult revival. His publications include the books Thomas Hardy and the Survivals of Time (2003), Mapping the Wessex Novel (2010), Franco-British Cultural Exchanges 1880-1940 (2012), Mary Butts and British Neo-Romanticism: The Enchantment of Place (2016) and Modernist Women Writers and Spirituality: A Piercing Darkness (2017).

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Network Participants

EGIL ASPREM is an Associate Professor (docent) of History of Religions at Stockholm University. His research is primarily in the area of Western esotericism, with a special focus on modern and contemporary currents. Thematically, he is interested in issues such as the relationship between esotericism and science, the transformation of esoteric thought and practice during processes of modernization, and the cognitive and psychological basis for esoteric mentalities, interpretive strategies, and forms of practice. His publications cover a broad range of subjects in this area, including Western ritual magic, parapsychology, contemporary paganism and shamanism, theosophy and anthroposophy, modern kabbalah, new natural theologies, conspiracy theories, new age, popular science in/as popular religion, etc. Egil is also interested in questions of theory and philosophy of science as related to the study of religion in general and esotericism in particular, and he has recently published a long series of articles on how current cognitive science can offer explanations for aspects of esotericism.

He is currently working on the project 'Occult Minds: Esotericism as Cognition and Culture' and editing a large reference work for Brill on contemporary esotericism. In addition, he is also involved in developing a 'building block approach' to religion and cognition in collaboration with Ann Taves at the University of California Santa Barbara, and is writing a book on how the new interest in mechanistic models of explanations within the philosophy of science sheds new light on the notion of 'explanation' in the study of religion.

CATHERINE ANYANGO is an artist and academic. She is a Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Konstfack, Stockholm, and a Tutor in Visual Research at the Royal College of Art in London. Catherine studied at St Martins and the Royal College of Art followed by an MA in English Literature at UCL. Since then she has exhibited at Art Basel Miami Beach, the London Design Festival, Guest Projects and Design Miami Basel. In September 2010 the publication of her graphic novel adaptation of Heart of Darkness was met with critical acclaim including the Observer’s Graphic Novel of the Month. She has produced live film events around London, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Film Theatre.

Catherine uses film, sculpture and mise-en-scene devices to reconstruct physical environments that are disrupted by psychological, intangible phenomena. Current projects look at the emotional manifestations of crime and guilt upon public and private space. She has a special interest in drawing, both in terms of content and materiality, and the relationship between literature and illustration. 

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NICHOLAS DALY is Professor of Modern English and American Literature at University College Dublin, and a member of the Royal Irish Academy.  His publications include the books Modernism, Romance, and the Fin de Siècle (1999), Literature, Technology and Modernity (2004), Sensation and Modernity in the 1860s (2009), and The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteenth-Century City: Paris, London, New York (2015).  He serves on the advisory boards of the Journal of Victorian Culture, Victoriographies, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and the Irish University Review.  Currently he is working on a project on Ruritanian fiction, drama and film, from The Prisoner of Zenda to The Princess Diaries.

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MARC DEMAREST is a director of the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals (IAPSOP), which currently provides more than 3 million pages of primary material, free of charge, to Spiritualist and occult researchers worldwide. Demarest is also a principal in Noumenal, Inc., a private management consulting firm with headquarters in the Pacific Northwest and the United Kingdom. 

NICK FREEMAN is Reader in Late-Victorian Literature at Loughborough University. He has written widely on gothic, decadent, weird, and occult matters, perhaps because he has never been able to resist tabloid newspapers or sleazy paperbacks. He is an occasional contributor to Radio Three’s Free Thinking, and recently published a critical edition of Arthur Symons’ short fiction, Spiritual Adventures.

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ROBERT A. GILBERT is a retired antiquarian bookseller whose speciality was the literature of the occult. Over a period of forty years he has also written, co-authored, edited and contributed to many books in this and related fields, including The Golden Dawn Companion (1986); A.E. Waite, a Biography (1987); Elements of Mysticism (1991); The Golden Dawn Scrapbook (1997) and Gnosticism and Gnosis, an Introduction (2012). He lives in North Somerset.

RICHARD J. HAND is Professor of Media Practice and Head of Media, Film and Television at the University of East Anglia, UK. His interests include adaptation, translation and interdisciplinarity in performance media (with a particular interest in historical forms of popular culture especially horror) using critical and practical research methodologies. He is the founding co-editor of the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance and the author of three books on radio drama (McFarland 2006, Continuum 2011 and Manchester University Press 2014), three books on Grand-Guignol horror theatre (Exeter University Press, 2002 and 2007), two books on Joseph Conrad (Palgrave 2005 and Rodopi 2009), a book on Graham Greene (Palgrave 2015) and has published translations of plays by Victor Hugo (Methuen 2004) and Octave Mirbeau (Intellect 2012). As a practitioner he has written and directed radio and stage plays in the UK and US.

WOUTER J. HANEGRAAFF is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  Alongside numerous articles and seven edited volumes, he is the author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden 1996/Albany 1998); Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents (Tempe 2005; with Ruud M. Bouthoorn); Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven (West Chester 2007); Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture (Cambridge 2012); and Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed (London 2013).

DARRYL JONES is Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin.  He is author or editor of 12 books, including most recently the Oxford editions of the Collected Ghost Stories of M. R. James (2011), Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson (2014), Arthur Conan Doyle’s Gothic Tales (2016).  His OUP editions of H. G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau and The War of the Worlds will both be published in 2017.  He is currently working on Horror, a volume in the OUP ‘Very Short Introductions’ series.

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ROGER LUCKHURST is a Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. His research interests range from late nineteenth-century literature and pseudo-science to science fiction and contemporary literature and culture. His publications include The Invention of Telepathy (2002), The Trauma Question (2008), The Mummy’s Curse: The True Story of a Dark Fantasy (2012), and Zombies: A Cultural History (2015). He is an occasional reviewer of science fiction film for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and Radio 3’s Night Waves.

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PÁDRAIC E. MOORE is a writer, curator, and art historian currently based in the Netherlands. He holds a BA in History of Art and English Literature from University College Dublin (2004), an MA in Visual Art Practices from IADT, Dublin (2007), and completed CuratorLab, the postgraduate programme at Konstfack University, Stockholm (2010). Moore’s research interests focus on the influence of esoteric philosophies upon the literary and visual arts and recent study considers how occult organisations, such as the Theosophical Society, offered a vital catalyst for change in late 19th and early 20th century art. Moore’s curatorial projects and publications explore how contemporary cultural producers have embraced aesthetics and ideals informed by esoteric traditions; chronicling the work of artists who refer to or follow in this tradition is an integral aspect of his practice. Recent projects include: I Went to the Woods: The Artist as Wanderer, a group exhibition at Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2016)  Now is forever lasting constant in the mind, a project for Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, (2016); Ψ (Psi), a project for Fokidos Gallery, Athens (2015) and Hot on the Heels of Love, a project for The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2015).

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PATRICIA PULHAM is Reader in Victorian Literature at the University of Portsmouth. Her research centres on nineteenth-century literature, art and culture, with a particular focus on decadence, aestheticism and late-Victorian Gothic fiction. She is author of Art and the Transitional Object in Vernon Lee’s Supernatural Tales (2008), and co-editor of Haunting and Spectrality in Neo-Victorian Fiction: Possessing the Past (2010). More recently she edited Spiritualism in Literature a volume in Spiritualism, 1840-1930, a facsimile collection published by Routledge in 2014. She is currently completing a monograph on the sculptural body in Victorian Literature to be published by Edinburgh University Press.

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MICHAEL SHAW is a research assistant and postdoctoral tutor at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.  His research focuses on literature and art from 1880 to 1914, with a particular emphasis on decadence and the Celtic Revival.  He is currently writing a book, Cultural Revival in Fin-de-Siècle Scotland (Edinburgh University Press), which will include a chapter on occultism in Scotland.  A chapter on Scottish Theosophy will also feature in Christine Ferguson and Andrew Radford’s forthcoming volume, The Occult Imagination in Britain 1875-1947 (Routledge).

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STEVEN SUTCLIFFE is Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Edinburgh. He specialises in the study of alternative religion in modernity and in the modern history of the study of religion/s. He is the author of Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices (2003) and co-editor (with Ingvild Gilhus) of New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion (2013) and (with Marion Bowman) of Beyond New Age: Exploring Alternative Spirituality (2000). He is currently working on the archive of the Scottish lebensreformer, Dugald Semple (1884-1964), on the life and work of the ‘western guru’ G.I. Gurdjieff (1866?-1949) and associates, and on the novels of David Lindsay in historical and cultural context.

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