Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Deus in MachinaReligion, Technology, and the Things in Between$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jeremy Stolow

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823249800

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823249800.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The Spiritual Nervous System

The Spiritual Nervous System

Reflections on a Magnetic Cord Designed for Spirit Communication

(p.83) The Spiritual Nervous System
Deus in Machina

Jeremy Stolow

Fordham University Press

This chapter documents the development of a nineteenth-century American Spiritualist technology for communicating with the dead, first proposed by Andrew Jackson Davis in 1853. The chapter situates this seemingly fantastical technology in relation to the expanding circulation of popular science in the nineteenth century, and in particular the rapid growth of non-expert discourses about electrical signalling drawing upon diverse fields, from telegraphy to neuro-anatomy. The chapter demonstrates how Davis and his Spiritualist contemporaries adopted and adapted this new understanding of ‘the electrical circuit’ as a basis for diverse communication systems, extending from intra-corporeal to terrestrial, astronomical, and even supernatural spaces and dimensions. The chapter concludes by arguing that there is no clear basis for separating Spiritualist practices and discourses about cables, signals, electrical circuits, and nervous systems from the practices and discourses of ‘proper’ or ‘legitimate’ techno-science, and that the rejection of the former by the latter is ultimately a political act.

Keywords:   Andrew Jackson Davis, American Spiritualism (nineteenth century), Popular science, Neuro-anatomy – nineteenth century, Electricity – religious uses

Fordham Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .