The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures

GHost’s Sarah Sparkes contributed a chapter,
“The GHost Project: manifesting ghosts through visual art and creative research”
The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures Edited by Olu Jenzen, University of Brighton, UK and Sally R. Munt, University of Sussex, UK

paranormal cultures

  • Despite the much vaunted ‘end of religion’ and the growth of secularism, people are engaging like never before in their own ‘spiritualities of life’. Across the West, paranormal belief is on the rise. The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures brings together the work of international scholars across the social sciences and humanities to question how and why people are seeking meaning in the realm of the paranormal, a heretofore subjugated knowledge.With contributions from the UK and other European countries, the USA, Australia and Canada, this ground-breaking book attends to the paranormal as a position from which to critique dominant forms of knowledge production and spirituality.A rich exploration of everyday life practices, textual engagements and discourses relating to the paranormal, as well as the mediation, technology and art of paranormal activity, this book explores themes such as subcultures and mainstreaming, as well as epistemological, methodological, and phenomenological questions, and the role of the paranormal in social change.

    The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures constitutes an essential resource for those interested in the academic study of cultural engagements with paranormality; it will appeal to scholars of cultural and media studies, popular culture, sociology, cultural geography, literature, film and music.

  • Contents: Introduction, Sally R. Munt; Part I Paranormal Epistemologies: Haunted culture: the persistence of belief in the paranormal, Christopher Partridge; The ghost in the machine: spirit and technology, John Harvey; Paranormal cultural practices, Annette Hill; Extraordinary experiences with UFOs, David Clarke; Ghosts in the body: infections, genes and the re-enchantment of biology, Robert Peckham; Sceptic culture: traditions of disbelief in New Mexico, William J. Dewan; ‘Paranormal science’ from America to Italy: a case of cultural homogenization, Andrea Molle and Christopher D. Bader; Making sense of the paranormal: a Platonic context for research methods, Angela Voss; Everyday ghosts: a matter of believing in belonging, Abby Day; ’A giant bedsheet with the holes cut out’: expectations and discussions of the appearance of ghosts, Paul Cowdell; Interpreting death and the afterlife in US paranormal reality television programmes and online fan groups, Diane Dobry. Part II The Paranormal and Social Change: Wilhelm Reich and the Etheric Warriors, Sarah Jane Sloane; Other senses: the politics of mediumship, Esther Peeren; ‘There’s something in my house’: television and the politics of then paranormal, Heather Nunn and Anita Biressi; Social realism and the paranormal in Scandinavian fiction, Olu Jenzen; Immersed in illusion, haunted by history: Marisa Carnesky’s Ghost Train, Josephine Machon; Ireland the anomalous state: paranormal cultures and the Irish literary and political revival, Wendy E. Cousins; Mexico’s La Ilustración Espirita: toward a transatlantic understanding of a spiritualist archive, María del Pilar Blanco; Visions of the paranormal: representations of psychic women and ghosts in television and film, Karin Beeler. Part III Paranormal Phenomenologies: The gizmo and the glitch: telepathy, ocular philosophy, and other extensions of sensation, Kristen Gallerneaux Brooks; Paranormal art history: psychometry and the afterlife of objects, a Canadian case study, Jennifer Fisher; Music and the paranormal, Melvyn J. Willin; Conjuring the spirits: suggestion, magic and the cognitive approach to performance creation, Jon Armstrong; Trance, transfiguration and trust: spiritualism in Western Australia, Janet Baldwin; A phenomenology of the ghosthunting scene in the USA and in Germany, Gerhard Mayer; The GHost Project: manifesting ghosts through visual art and creative research, Sarah Sparkes; The monsters of Walthamstow and Hackney marshes: the haunting of East London’s lower Lea valley by prehistoric ghosts, Gareth E. Rees; A short bestiary of creatures from the web, Line Henriksen; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Editor: Olu Jenzen is Senior Lecturer in the School of Art, Design and Media at the University of Brighton, UK.Sally R. Munt is Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, UK. She is author of Queer Attachments, editor of Cultural Studies and the Working Class and co-author of Queer Spiritual Spaces.
  • Reviews: ‘The essays are … clear and well written. Recommended. All readers.’
    Choice‘This is just a marvelous collection of essays (and essayists) – deeply versed in the theoretical literatures and the historical materials, smart, critical, sympathetic, as interested in the popular as the elite, and, above all, sufficiently weird. What they show as a whole is that the paranormal is normal, or, better, that the normal is not what we thought it was. Exactly the kind of notes we should be striking in cutting edge scholarship.’
    Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University, USA and author of Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred‘This welcome collection takes a refreshingly eclectic approach to the meaning, expression, and representation of the paranormal, demonstrating the scholarly value of research in the field. Drawing upon the diverse expertise of its contributors, it provides an intellectually stimulating look at ghosts, UFOs, spiritualism, and broader paranormal cultures without getting unnecessarily bogged down in abstruse theory.’
    Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire, UK

    ‘The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures sounds like something to have handy by your bedside in case of ghosts, ghouls or other unexplained phenomena and maybe it is, but it is so much more. This work showcases exciting new research into intriguing everyday aspects of parapsychology, critiqued through different filters and from different viewpoints. This work offers interesting and entertaining insight for casual readers curious about the paranormal although part of a series from the same publisher, targeted at scholars and graduate students through presenting cutting-edge scholarly research. … While early parapsychology research was criticized for failing to prove the existence of the paranormal this work offers new and timely, plural and refreshing angles on the manifestation, meaning and representations of the paranormal within our lived experiences, supporting the need for more research while being seriously weird enough to be wonderful.’
    Media Culture Reviews

    ‘This work represents an important leap forward in exploring the full range of beliefs, practices, and cultures that have so far been largely ignored by scholarship.’
    Nova Religio