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Parapsychology – Mediumship

2. A History of Mediumship

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the history of mediumship, focusing in particular on: (i) the Fox sisters who, in 1848, claimed they were communicating with spirits through knocking noises; (ii) the role of the Fox sisters in developing this communication method into a séance environment; (iii) Emanuel Swedenborg and Andrew Jackson Davis as earlier self-professed mediums than even the Fox sisters; (iv) Nostradamus as an early example of an individual contacting the spirit world, through the Ancient Greek method of scrying; (v) Madame Blavatsky as a more recent example of an individual claiming to be in touch with the spirit world; (vi) Daniel Dunglas Home, who performed levitation ‘stunts’ while claiming to have mediumship abilities.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores mediumship. In the first lecture, we think about how to define a medium and the act of mediumship. In the second lecture, we think about the history of mediumship and its origins in Ancient Greece. In the third lecture, we think about some theories behind how mediumship can occur, with a focus on the paranormal. Next, we think about the role of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the research and popularity around mediumship. In the fifth and final lecture, we think about taking a sceptical perspective towards research into mediumship.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Parapsychology – Mediumship - A History of Mediumship [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Parapsychology – Mediumship – A History of Mediumship." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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