‘The Natural and the Super-Natural: Ghost dogs, Science and Sustainability in the Writings of Catherine Crowe’

Heholt, Ruth (2014) ‘The Natural and the Super-Natural: Ghost dogs, Science and Sustainability in the Writings of Catherine Crowe’. In: British Association of Victorian Studies Annual Conference, September 2014, University of Kent.

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Abstract / Summary

This paper resurrects the prominent mid-Victorian Spiritualist Catherine Crowe, as an important and radical ecological writer. Ahead of all other Spiritualist writers, Crowe posited the naturalness of the super-natural and called on science to investigate. Crowe advocated a new kind of scientific investigation that was not just rational or objective, but which included experience and intuition. In her most famous book The Night Side of Nature (1848), Crowe gathered people’s experiences of the ghostly and one of the things she documented was the phenomenon of ghost dogs and canine ghost hunters. An egalitarian, Crowe saw the non-human as a vital part of the environment and she looked towards a more sustainable way of the living and the dead, humans and animals to exist with each other. She denounced the idea that man is superior to animals saying: ‘there is a deep mystery in the being of these creatures, which proud man never seeks to unravel’ (1859: 9). For Crowe, dogs are the most intuitive, the most aware species and the spirits of the ghost dogs in her stories display love and loyalty from beyond the grave pointing to a relationship between nature, super-nature, humans and animals that is productive, emotional and symbiotic.
This paper explores the interconnections posed by Crowe between the natural and the supernatural, between science and intuition (the masculine and the feminine), and between the human and the non-human. Although largely forgotten today, I argue that Crowe initiated some of most important environmental questions of the C19th.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Writing & Journalism > Literature
Writing & Journalism
Courses by Department: The School of Writing & Journalism > English & Writing
Depositing User: Ruth Heholt
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2015 09:36
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 16:06
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/1534

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