Spiritualism and Science Studies for the Twenty-First Century



Ferguson C & Sera-Shriar E (2022) Spiritualism and Science Studies for the Twenty-First Century. Aries, 22 (1), pp. 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1163/15700593-02201001

First paragraph: Science and spiritualism studies is an interdisciplinary academic sub-field of no recent vintage. Since the early nineteen-seventies, studies of major scientific naturalists such as Alfred Russel Wallace, Edward Burnett Tylor, William Crookes, and others have showed a growing willingness to acknowledge and account for the psychical interests and sometimes ardent spiritualist convictions of their subjects. From these initially individualistic case studies has emerged a broader picture of the role of spiritualist beliefs and psychical investigation on the settlement of modern scientific disciplines, methods, and networks. This trajectory is exemplified with particular clarity in the sub-titular ambition of Richard Noakes’s excellent 2019 Physics and Psychics: The Occult and the Sciences in Modern Britain, a study which establishes psychical research not as the faddish interest of a cadre of admittedly high-placed scientific eccentrics, but rather as a key catalyst in the late-Victorian development of the physical sciences. At the start of the twentieth century, he argues, psychical research and spiritualist phenomena may have been frequently derided by physical scientists, but they were also far more difficult to ignore than they have since become. Even if only to be rejected and debunked, such subjects demanded address by leading scientific naturalists of their day.

Aries: Volume 22, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2022
Publication date online22/11/2021
Date accepted by journal22/11/2021

People (1)


Professor Christine Ferguson

Professor Christine Ferguson

Professor in English, English Studies