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The Media of Mediumship

Aim

The Media of Mediumship: Encountering the Material Culture of Modern Occultism in Britain’s Science, Technology, and Magic Collections aims to examine the relationship between science, technology, and occultism in modern Britain, using the unique collections of the Science Museum Group and Senate House Library to explore the entangled histories of human belief, perception, trust and scientific evidence as experienced through sight and sound.

A group of people sat around a small table. The blurry image of a hand appears to be hovering under the table.

To find out more, visit the official project website.

Context

The Media of Mediumship is a one-year AHRC funded project which examines the relationship between science, technology, and occultism in modern Britain, using the unique collections of the Science Museum Group and Senate House Library to explore the entangled histories of human belief, perception, trust, and scientific evidence as experienced through sight and sound.

Over a series of talks, interactive activities, and creative performances, it tells the story of how unorthodox spiritual believers and sceptics alike have used new technologies and scientific instruments— photography, wireless transmission, telegraphy, tape recorders— to attest or debunk the existence of an unseen world. In so doing, the project will deliver original curatorial perspectives on collection materials whose occult histories of use have long been unknown or misunderstood. Through its affiliation with the NSMM in particular, it will work to highlight the Bradford site’s new sound and vision redesign, with its planned live events aligning with the “Sound” focus of the 2021 Science Festival.

The project is based at the University of Stirling and produced in collaboration with the Science Museum Group and Senate House Library, and follows on from the AHRC Popular Occulture in Britain, 1875-1947 project.

An old-fashioned box camera

Outcomes

  • Production of interactive events programme, article, and film
  • Production of new creative works
  • Knowledge exchange with international stakeholders

Outputs

Videos, articles, live events, object and stories resources (all forthcoming).

Project team

Name: Professor Christine Ferguson
Job title: Chair in English Studies at University of Stirling
Organisation: University of Stirling
Project role: Principal Investigator

Name: Dr Efram Sera-Shriar
Job title: Senior Researcher and Research Grants Manager, SMG
Organisation: Science Museum Group
Project role: Co-Investigator

Name: Emma Merkling
Job title: Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Organisation: University of Stirling and SMG
Project role: Postdoctoral Research Fellow