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The Darkened Room

Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England

A highly original study that examines the central role played by women as mediums, healers, and believers during the golden age of spiritualism in the late Victorian era, The Darkened Room is more than a meditation on women mediums—it’s an exploration of the era’s gender relations.

The hugely popular spiritualist movement, which maintained that women were uniquely qualified to commune with spirits of the dead, offered female mediums a new independence, authority, and potential to undermine conventional class and gender relations in the home and in society.

Using previously unexamined sources and an innovative approach, Alex Owen invokes the Victorian world of darkened séance rooms, theatrical apparitions, and moving episodes of happiness lost and regained. She charts the struggles between spiritualists and the medical and legal establishments over the issue of female mediumship, and provides new insights into the gendered dynamics of Victorian society.

344 pages | 11 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1989

History: British and Irish History

History of Science

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: The book, the spirits, and the historians
1. Power and Gender: The Spiritalist Context
2. Victorian Spiritualism and the Spiritualist Woman
3. Star Mediumship: Light and Shadows
4. At Home with the Theobald Family
5. Women Healers in the Spiritualist World
6. Medicine, Mediumship and Mania
7. Louisa Lowe’s Story
8. Spiritualism and the Subversion of Femininity

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