The Spiritualism Symposium, curated by Shannon Taggart

About this series

Spiritualism, the American-born religion based on the belief in communication with spirits of the dead, was once a popular movement that influenced Western culture. Yet Spiritualism’s legacy has often been censored or neglected by academia and the media. The Spiritualism Symposium examines the surprising path from the séance room to the history of science, medicine, technology, politics, and art. It also explores topics related to mediumship and the study of the supernatural. This series presentations are drawn from past symposium’s hosted annually by Shannon Taggart in Lily Dale, New York, USA—home to the world’s largest Spiritualist community.

Each lecture will be sold separately, see below for details of the other lectures in the series (if missed, these will be available on demand)

Spiritualism, the Science of Crime and Early Forensics, with Cathy Gutierrez, Ph.D.

About this event

Caesare Lombroso, father of modern criminology and avid Spiritualist, formulated his theory of criminals using the same instruments that he brought to the séance when investigating mediums for the Society of Psychical Research. Spirit materializations and catching criminals both created bodies of absent people through foot prints, finger prints, and photographs.  By combining Darwinian evolution and phrenology, Lombroso focused on the criminal rather than the crime, and a new science had begun.  We will discover how ancient Greek wisdom, Neanderthal skulls, and mediumship all coalesced into the birth of forensics. 

Cathy Gutierrez is a candidate at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research to become a therapist in New York City. She was a Professor of Religion at Sweet Briar College for eighteen years. Her primary research interests are nineteenth-century Spiritualism and the history of esotericism, particularly where they intersect with ideas of consciousness. She has published on the Free Love movement in America, Theosophy, millennialism, and the Freemasons. Her monograph, Plato’s Ghost: Spiritualism in the American Renaissance (Oxford University Press 2009), examines the American legacy of Neoplatonism in popular religious expression and she is the editor of several collections including the Brill Handbook of Spiritualism and Channeling (2015).

Shannon Taggart is an artist and author exploring the intersection between Spiritualism, photography, and the representation of belief. Her work has been exhibited and featured internationally, including within the publications TIME, New York Times Magazine, Discover, and Newsweek. Taggart’s monograph, SÉANCE (Fulgur Press, 2019), was named one of TIME’s ‘Best Photobooks of 2019.’

Image Title:

Eusapia Palladino’s séance at the Society of Psychic Studies of Milan, c.1909.

Courtesy of Cesare Lombroso’s Museum of Criminal Anthropology, Turin, Italy.

The Spiritualism Symposium, curated by Shannon Taggart