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, Dr. Leslie Paris.
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 compiled content for an online resource, Careers for Historians, working with the head of the Department of History, Dr. Anne Gorsuch.
"The Poltergeist at the Intersection of the Spirit and the Material" in anthology on the study of religion (forthcoming 2016).
Encyclopedic entries on "Poltergeist," "Psychokinesis," "Animals and the Paranormal," and "The Paranormal on Television" in Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies, edited by Matt Cardin (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, forthcoming 2015).
Review of Jeffrey J. Kripal et al's Comparing Religions, Fortean Times 321 (December 2014), 61-62.
Review of Robert E. Bartholomew and Bob Rickard's Mass Hysteria in Schools, Fortean Times 320 (November 2014), 58-59.
"Preserving Parapsychology", Fortean Times 319 (October 2014), 56-57.
Review of Christopher C. French and Anna Stone's Anomalistic Parapsychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 78.4, no. 917 (October 2014), 249-251.
Co-authored with Paul Cropper, “The Baldoon Mystery,” Fortean Times 315 (June 2014), 30-39.
Review of Shirley Hitchings & James Clark’s The Poltergeist Prince of London, Fortean Times 312 (March 2014), 60.
Retrospective Review of William Roll’s The Poltergeist, Journal of Scientific Exploration 27, no. 3 (Fall 2013), 575–577.
“Turning to the Affective in Direct Experiences: An Interdisciplinary, Investigative Quest,” Paranthropology 4, no. 1(a) (January 2013), 41-50.
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: "The Making of the Twentieth-Century Poltergeist: Psychokinesis, Imagination, and Culture," Imaginal Symposium, Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California (October 2014)
Presentation: "The Baldoon Mystery," Eva Brook Donly Museum and Archives, Simcoe, Ontario (September 2014)
Presentation: "'Of Thy Neighbor': Investigating Who and What's Next Door in Cases of Hauntings," Exploring the Extraordinary 6, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (March 2014)
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 4, 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)
Public Lecture: "Exploring Our Supernatural World," Nead an Dreoilín (The Wren’s Nest), Dingle, Ireland (June 2010)
Presentation: "Becoming Lucía: Personality Transformation, Xenoglossy and Spiritualism in 1930s Budapest," Science and Technology in the European Periphery, Galway, Ireland (June 2010)
I created content for Careers for Historians, an online resource that provides 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)
Sessional Lecturer. HIST 106: Global Environmental History, The University of British Columbia (Summer 2015)
Sessional Lecturer. HIST 104: Topics in World History, The University of British Columbia (Winter 2014)
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)