A Long History
Rise of Spiritualism
Industrialism and Ghosts
Supernatural and Hope
Supernatural Restores Faith
Ghosts Build Communities
Comfort to Bereaved
Why the Supernatural was Entertaining
Transcending the Real
Ghosts and Mystery
Ghosts and Thrills
Entertainers Cash In
Laughing at Ghosts
Why Were Americans Interested
in the Supernatural?
Ghost Stories Appeal to Americans'
Love of Mystery (con.)
Non-fiction, ghost stories were popular in part because they presented
readers with an improvable reality. The uncertainty that Americans’
felt about the supernatural realm heightened the satisfaction that they
derived from reading these tales, if for no other reason than this ambiguity
contrasted with the often routine, mundane world that they lived in (3).
The preface to The Haunted School-house at Newburyport, Mass., published
in 1873, alluded to this tension:
“There are few matters relating to supernatural appearances of which
one can write temperately or fairly, so strongly does the love of the
marvelous or the hatred of the sham enter into the composition of the
mind...” The writer then goes on to explain that he or she has transcribe
the details of this haunting faithfully; however, the reader’s doubts
have already been stoked (4).
It is this fact, among other things, which heightened the curiosity of
Victorian Americans concerning the spirit world.
September 8, 2004
ghost, supernatural, Spiritualism, antebellum,
apparition, gothic, post-bellum, phantom, paranormal, 1800s, 1900s,
Anthony Hopper, literature, growth,
industrialism, needs, psychical, psychic, afterlife, non-material, spirit,
American, United States