The Invention of Telepathy

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The belief in telepathy is still widely held and yet it remains much disputed by scientists. Roger Luckhurst explores the origins of the term in the late nineteenth century. Telepathy mixed physical and mental sciences, new technologies and old superstitions, and it fascinated many famous people in the late Victorian era: Sigmund Freud, Thomas Huxley, Henry James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Oscar Wilde. This is an exciting and accessible study, written for general readers as much as scholars and students.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199249626
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger Luckhurst is Lecturer in English, Birkbeck College, University of London, and co-editor of Roger of The Fin-de-Si├Ęcle (OUP, 2000).

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Introduction 1
1 Terrains of Emergence, 1870-1882 9
The Settlement of Scientific Naturalism 12
Institutions of Science 17
Fragilities 22
William Crookes - Chemist, Spectroscopist, and Spiritualist 24
Dirty Tricks? 32
The Darwin Seance, 1874 37
The Lankester Seance and the Trial of Henry Slade, 1876 44
The Psychological Society of Great Britain, 1875-1879 47
Sociological Pathways: Founding the Society for Psychical Research 51
2 Coining Telepathy: Concept and Elaboration, 1882-1901 60
Immediate Resources: Mind-Readers and Parlour Games 61
Black-Boxing Telepathy 69
Discursive Levers I: The Physics of Inter-phenomena 75
Discursive Levers II: Vanishing Points in Fin-de-Siecle Psychology 92
The Myers Synthesis: Telepathy and the Subliminal Consciousness 107
Out of the Knot, and into the Territory 112
3 Making Connections: W. T. Stead's Occult Economies 117
High and Low 117
'In Touch with Life at All Points': Stead's Trajectory 122
Affective Journalism 131
The Edge of the Electric Future 135
The Tie that Binds the World 140
4 Telepathic Doxai: Knowledge and Belief at the Imperial Margin 148
'Where Are the Letters?' 148
The Phantasmal Empire 154
Andrew Lang: Psycho-folklorist 160
Mary Kingsley and the 'Capacity to Think in Black' 167
Rudyard Kipling's Gossip-Tales 173
5 Psychical Research and the Late Victorian Gothic 181
Generic Reactions: The Resistance to Theory? 186
Degrees of Ambivalence: Robert Louis Stevenson 190
Grant Allen 196
Arthur Machen 199
Trance-Texts: Distant Influence as Gothic Trope 204
Remote Control Victorians: The Beetle and Dracula 208
6 The Women Sensitive: Nerves, New Women, and Henry James 214
'The Finer Characters of Psychic Life' 215
Valences of the New Woman 219
Entanglements with Mediums 227
'I Too Was a "Sensitive"': William, Henry, and Alice James 234
After 1890: The Psychical Jameses 237
Henry James's Romances of Occult Relation 241
7 Afterlives, 1901-1934 252
The Death and Life of Frederic Myers 253
Modernism, Psychism, and the Occult Revival 256
Cross-correspondence and Collage 264
Freud's Little Local Difficulty 270
Bibliography 279
Index 319
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