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Spiritualism and the Occult

RELIGST
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T.W. Stanford, Leland Jr¿s uncle, was on the original board of trustees for Stanford, and his will left money for founding psychic studies at Stanford. His apports, or occult séance objects are now in the University collections and he claimed to speak with Leland Jr. after his death through a séance encounter. The Stanfords were far from alone in engaging in occult practices. Millions of people in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries described themselves as spiritualist. Far from being the rejection of science, this movement saw itself--and often was seen by others¿as the forefront of scientific inquiry. From spirit rapping to telepathy, its practitioners often drew a thin line between physics and metaphysics mixing the most recent technological innovations with traditions as diverse as Christianity, Jewish Kabbala, Buddhism, and Jainism.nnnOur class will examine spirit photographs allegedly capturing images of dead relatives (and Satan himself), explore novels about outer space travel enabled by electrical beverages, read the account of a walking and talking seance table named "Mary Jane," and handle artifacts that TW Stanford used to communicate across the astral plane and beyond the grave. These sources will immerse us in a technologically modernizing world experiencing a new wave of global empires, a world in which spiritualists blend Eastern and Western mystical concepts, hitch spiritual understanding to the emerging prestige of the scientific, and focus on the unseen, inner, and mystical as the new frontier awaiting full revelation.

Grading: 
Letter or Credit/No Credit
Requirements: 
WAY-A-II, WAY-SI
Course ID: 
219 383

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