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February 17 , 2008

Women and the Victorian Occult


Increasingly, contemporary scholarship reveals the strong connection between Victorian women and the world of the nineteenth-century supernatural. Women were intrinsically bound to the occult and the esoteric from mediums who materialised spirits to the epiphanic experiences of the New Woman, from theosophy to telepathy. This volume addresses the various ways in which Victorian women expressed themselves and were constructed by the occult through a broad range of texts. By examining the roles of women as automatic writing mediums, spiritualists, authors, editors, theosophists, socialists and how they interpreted the occult in their life and work, the contributors in this edition return to sensation novels, ghost stories, autobiographies, séances and fashionable magazines to access the visible and invisible worlds of Victorian life. The variety of texts analysed by the authors in this collection demonstrates the many interpretations of the occult in nineteenth-century culture and the ways that women used supernatural imagery and language to draw attention to issues that bore immediate implications on their own lives. Either by catering for the fad of ghost stories or by giving public trance speeches women harnessed the metaphorical and financial forces of the supernatural. As the articles in this book demonstrate the occult was after all a female affair. This book was published as a special issue of Women's Writing.

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