Occult Communications: On Instrumentation, Esotericism, and Epistemology


What can the occult, the obscure, and the incommunicable teach us about the history of communications and culture? Occult Communications: On Instrumentation, Esotericism, and Epistemology, examines how spiritualism, esotericism, and occultism have shaped the dominant cultures of reason in European and North American contexts from the seventeenth-century until today. Case studies in media archaeology and historical epistemology on issues such as spirit photography, horror films, exorcisms, stage magic, surrealism, and brains-in-vats examine so-called magical thinking and its operations at the heart of modern scientific and technological reason.


  • Bernard Geoghegen, "Occult Communications: On Instrumentation, Esotericism, and Epistemology"

Occcult Premotions

  • Florian Sprenger, “Insensible and Inexplicable – On the Two Meanings of the Occult”
  • Stephan Gregory, “Media in Action: From Exorcism to Mesmerism”

The Spirit of Scientific Inquiry

  • Erhard Schüttpelz & Ehler Voss, “Fragile Balance: Human Mediums and Technical Media in Oliver Lodge’s Presidential Address of 1891”
  • Christian Kassung, “Self-Writing Machines: Technology and the Question of the Self”
  • Margarida Medeiros, “Facts and Photographs: Visualizing the Invisible with Spirit and Thought Photography”
  • Jeffrey Sconce, “The Ghostularity”

The Spirit of Diversion

  • Katharina Rein, “Mind Reading in Stage Magic: The “Second Sight” Illusion, Media, and Mediums”
  • Petra Löffler, “Ghosts of the City: A Spectrology of Cinematic Spaces”
  • Tessel M. Bauduin, “The ‘Continuing Misfortune’ of Automatism in Early Surrealism”

Transmedial Occultism

  • Anthony Enns, “Spiritualist Writing Machines: Telegraphy, Typtology, Typewriting,”
  • Simone Natale, “Spreading the Spirit Word: Print Media, Storytelling, and Popular Culture in Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism,”
  • Laurence Rickels, “Integration: Understanding New Mediation via Innovations in Horror Cinema,”



The Ghostularity
Jeffrey Sconce