My Research Approach: I am a PhD candidate researching the socio-cultural intersection of religion, science, and society through how people have encountered, experienced, and attempted to explain extraordinary things. Such things are often referred to as the supernatural or the paranormal, terms that carry with them many assumptions. Inspired by the approach of interdisciplinary networks such as Exploring the Extraordinary and scholars who combine disciplinary methodologies, I approach historical encounters with anomalous phenomena as being within the broader realm of extraordinary experiences. This can include anything that is outside of the ordinary, anything that is exceptional in relation to individual, community, and cultural knowledge and experiences. In using this term, my historical research strives to operate outside of common dichotomic debates, for example between belief and disbelief, to get more at what these experiences specifically mean to people and cultures, how they affect lives, and how knowledge is shaped and challenged around them. Since my focus is on the past century or so, I draw from history, journalism, and anthropology to explore my scholarly analysis, which I aim to make accessible to anyone who is interested in extraordinary things.
Mischievous Forces: For my doctoral research, I am focusing on shifting explanations of the poltergeist phenomenon in the twentieth century between the spiritual and the psychological. The poltergeist refers to invisible, mischievous forces known to knock on walls, throw objects of all kinds, and upturn heavy furniture. By the 1950s, psychological and psychoanalytical concepts of human potential, mind over matter, and emotional well-being were introduced into poltergeist households, challenging and reshaping widely-held notions of spirits and life after death being responsible for the manifestations. In addition to archival research, with the approval of UBC's Research Ethics Board, I am interviewing living eyewitnesses, researchers and critics of this phenomenon. Advisor: Dr. Joy Dixon. Committee: Dr. Robert Brain, Dr. Carla Nappi.
I organized Multimedia Histories, a four-part seminar series in February and March 2011 that explored alternate media through which scholars disseminate their research. Mentor: Dr. Carla Nappi. I am currently compiling content for an online resource, Careers for Historians, working with the head of the Department of History, Dr. Anne Gorsuch.
Review of Deonna Kelli Sayed's Paranormal Obsession: America's Fascination with Ghosts and Hauntings, Spooks and Spirits, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 76.4, no. 909 (October 2012), 10-12.
Review of Jeffrey J. Kripal's Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and The Sacred, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 75.1, no. 902 (January 2011), 44-47.
"BSHS-Sponsored Conferences: Science and Technology in the European Periphery," Viewpoint: The Newsletter of the British Society for the History of Science 93 (October 2010)
Presentation: "Psychical and Psychological: Approaches to Mental Health Issues in Post-War Investigations of Paranormal Claims," UCL Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines, University College London, England (September 2012)
Presentation: "Reconstructing Seaford: A historical methodology to trace the rise of the psychokinetic theory of the poltergeist phenomenon," Exploring the Extraordinary, York, England (September 2012)
Presentation: "Delusions and Distress: Therapeutic Approaches in Post-War Psychical Research," 36th Annual Society for Psychical Research International Conference, Northampton, England (September 2012)
Presentation: "Supernatural interpretations of late-twentieth-century snapshot photography," University of Washington Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference, Seattle, Washington (May 2011)
Presentation: "Becoming Lucía: Personality Transformation, Xenoglossy and Spiritualism in 1930s Budapest," Science and Technology in the European Periphery, Galway, Ireland (June 2010)
I am currently working on content for Careers for Historians, an online resource that will provide history students and faculty with information on the spectrum of career opportunities available to them.
Multimedia Histories, a four-part lunchtime speaker series exploring how scholars disseminate their research in multimedia forms: live theatre, installation, online media, film, and audio. Speakers: Geraldine Pratt (Geography, UBC); Sharon Meen (History, UBC); Geoff Horner (History, UBC); and Adam Frank (English, UBC). Series held in February and March 2011.
In collaboration with Kristofir Dean. "The Fortean Tales of Lapis Lazu," Exploring the Extraordinary, York, England (September 2012)
In collaboration with Kristofir Dean. "The Light Inside: Glow/Strange Lights in a North Carolinian Household, Summer 1962," History Slam, University of British Columbia (February 2011)
Guest Lecture. "The Suburban Environment." HIST 106: Global Environmental History, The University of British Columbia (March 2011)
Teaching Assistant. HIST 106: Global Environmental History, The University of British Columbia (Winter 2011)
Teaching Assistant. HIST 3080: The United States in the World, University of Guelph (Winter 2009)
Teaching Assistant. HIST 1250: The History of Science & Technology, University of Guelph (Fall 2008)