Science, Ghosts and Vision: Catherine Crowe's Bodies of Evidence and the Critique of Masculinity

Heholt, Ruth (2014) Science, Ghosts and Vision: Catherine Crowe's Bodies of Evidence and the Critique of Masculinity. 'Haunted Men' Victoriographies Special Issue, 4 (1). ISSN 2044-2416

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Abstract / Summary

This article looks at the ghost tales of the prominent mid-Victorian spiritualist Catherine Crowe. In an early precursor to the Society for Psychical Research’s 1895 ‘Census of Hallucinations’, her most famous book The Night Side of Nature (1848) published people’s tales of poltergeists, prophetic dreams, ghost sightings and uncanny coincidences through stories, anecdotes and reported personal experience. Crowe believed in the naturalness of the super-natural and her intention was to present the plethora of what she saw as ‘evidence’ to the scientific community for a hearing and as a starting place for examination. The body of evidence Crowe presented however, far from being objective, distanced, testable or repeatable, was subjective, personal, anecdotal and transient. Placing emphasis on intuition and experience, Crowe wanted science to look in a different way at psychic experiences, and to expand its narrow, supposedly rational and objective vision. Her tales look directly at white, upper class Victorian men and their bodies are presented for scrutiny as part of the evidence she wants (masculine) science to look at. This article argues that these ghost tales disrupt any narratives of unified, whole masculinity through the visibility and the presence of the male body and the questioning of science and rationality. Today Crowe has fallen out of fashion, however her work has proved to be prophetic in its concerns. This chapter argues that in Crowe’s own bodies of evidence, she blends the empirical and the spiritual, the objective and the subjective in a way that undermines the dominant certainties of science, empirical vision and masculinity.

Item Type: Article
ISSN: 2044-2416
Subjects: Writing & Journalism > Literature
Courses by Department: The School of Writing & Journalism > Journalism
Depositing User: Ruth Heholt
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2017 12:34
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2017 12:34
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/1188

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