Determined Spirits: Eugenics, Heredity and Racial Regeneration in Anglo-American Spiritualist Writing, 1848-1930

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Examines the Spiritualist movement's role in disseminating eugenic and hard hereditarian thought. Studying transatlantic spiritualist literature from the mid-19th to the early 20th century, Christine Ferguson focuses on its incorporation and dissemination of bio-determinist and eugenic thought. She asks why ideas about rational reproduction, hereditary determinism and race improvement became so important to spiritualist novelists, journalists and biographers in this period. She also examines how these concerns drove emerging Spiritualist understandings of disability, intelligence, crime, conception, the afterlife and aesthetic production. The book draws on rare material, including articles and serialized fiction from Spiritualist periodicals such as Light, The Two Worlds and The Medium and Daybreak as well as on Spiritualist healing, parentage and sex manuals. Key Features: *The first major study of Transatlantic Spiritualism's sustained commitment to eugenics, bio-determinism and hard hereditarianism *Devotes a chapter to eugenic and raciological writing of Paschal Beverly Randolph, the nineteenth-century African-American Rosicrucian and sex magician whose work has only recently been rediscovered by scholars * Interdisciplinary and historicist methodology * The rich transatlantic reading demonstrates the continuity and influence between British and American Spiritualist writings on the body, reproduction and mental fitness

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Edinburgh University Press
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