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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1882 the Society for Psychical Research was established to examine phenomena such as ‘spirit communication’, ‘thought transference’, ‘hypnosis’, and ‘haunted houses’. Psychical researchers were eager to remove the connotations of sensational, gothic, or supernatural genre writing from their reports and framed their experiments within contemporary scientific and technological developments. The empirical terminology employed by the SPR, for example its re-categorizations of ‘ghosts’ as ‘phantasms’ and ‘mediums’ as ‘sensitives’, fuelled the period’s literary imagination. ‘Spirit Worlds’ examines the complicated relationship between genre writing and psychical research. By drawing on the SPR’s proceedings, reports in spiritualist and popular magazines and fictional psychical research accounts I argue that psychical research gave rise to a new literary phenomenon, the psychic detective

Keywords: psychical research, ghost stories, occult detectives, spiritualism

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