Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.653647
Title: Magic and miracles in Victorian Britain : framing the phenomena of D.D. Home
Author: Lamont, Peter
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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Abstract:
This thesis is a study of Victorian views about seance phenomena, focusing on the phenomena associated with D.D. Home, by far the best-known and most impressive of Victorian mediums. The study is based primarily on the debate within the periodical press from Home’s arrival in Britain in 1855 to the publication of his last book in 1877, and is in eight chapters. Chapter one locates Victorian views about seance phenomena within a broader Victorian worldview, by outlining how historians have discussed not only Victorian spiritualism but broader aspects of Victorian science and religion, and aspects of Orientalism. It then describes the sources to be used in the study, and discusses how they have been approached by the author. In the light of questions concerning historical methodology, and of certain non-historical literature on anomalous beliefs, it argues that the most appropriate question to ask is: How did Victorians frame Home’s phenomena? Chapter two provides background information on Home, his witnesses and critics, and the metropolitan environment within which discussion about his phenomena primarily took place. It then sets up the themes of the next four chapters by arguing that, from the beginning, Home’s phenomena were framed in relation to four questions: Were they the result of trickery?; Were the objectively real?; Were they the result of a new natural force?; and Were they due to supernatural agency? The next four chapters discuss these themes in depth, and in relation to broader Victorian concerns. In doing so, they stress the inadequacies of the arguments that framed Home’s phenomena either as trickery or as the result of purely subjective experiences, and argue that any contemporary considering the question would have been aware of these inadequacies. They also consider how seance phenomena that lacked an adequate alternative explanation challenged orthodox science, and had implications for debates about Biblical miracles. Chapter seven then considers the link between such phenomena and views of Indian magic. It outlines how Victorians viewed Indian magic, noting an increasing tendency from the 1870s to view it as something other than trickery, then argues such a shift is best explained by mid-Victorian comparisons between seance phenomena and Indian magic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.653647  DOI: Not available
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