Victorian Women and the Theatre of Trance: Mediums, Spiritualists and Mesmerists in Performance

Overview

Spiritualists in the nineteenth century spoke of the ""Borderland,"" a shadowy threshold where the living communed with the dead, and where those in the material realm could receive comfort or advice from another world. The skilled performances of mostly female actors and performers made the ""Borderland"" a theatre, of sorts, in which dramas of revelation and recognition were produced in the forms of seances, trances, and spiritualist lectures.

This book examines some of the ...

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Overview

Spiritualists in the nineteenth century spoke of the ""Borderland,"" a shadowy threshold where the living communed with the dead, and where those in the material realm could receive comfort or advice from another world. The skilled performances of mostly female actors and performers made the ""Borderland"" a theatre, of sorts, in which dramas of revelation and recognition were produced in the forms of seances, trances, and spiritualist lectures.

This book examines some of the most fascinating American and British actresses of the Victorian era, whose performances fairly mesmerized their audiences of amused skeptics and ardent believers. It also focuses on the transformative possibilities of the spiritualist theatre, revealing how the performances allowed Victorian women to speak, act, and create outside the boundaries of their restricted social and psychological roles."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786434794
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/5/2009
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Lehman has presented research on the theatrical aspects of 19th-century spiritualism at theatre and Victorian studies conferences in the United States and abroad. She is currently on the faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of South Carolina.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Victorian Theatre and Theatricality in Victorian Culture 9

2 The Victorian Woman as Actress and the Roles She Played 17

3 Mesmer and Charcot: The Trance Performance as Medical Show 31

4 The Performances of Elizabeth O'Key: The Medical Theatre of Mesmerism 39

5 "Double Consciousness" in Acting Theory and Trance State 55

6 "Call Me Gypsy": Anna Cora Mowatt's Trance Performances 63

7 The Rise of Spiritualism and the Fox Sisters 79

8 Seance as Theatre 88

9 Spirit Travels to Distant Times and Places 102

10 Cora L. V. Richmond: Spiritualist Trance Star 115

11 The Performance of "Quina" and the Racial "Other" 127

12 Spiritualism Crosses Over to England: Florence Cook and the Materialization Seance 142

13 "Katie King" and Robert Dale Owen 160

14 Materialization, Ectoplasm and Realism 168

Chapter Notes 181

Bibliography 191

Index 199

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