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Christopher Castiglia

Christopher Castiglia

Distinguished Professor of English


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My project addresses nineteenth-century Spiritualism as an early information technology that combined belief, affect, psychology, and media in ways that made new forms of information acceptable to a mass audience.  My particular focus is on how Spiritualism retained the affective trace of interpersonal relations in the emergence of decorporealized information, ensuring that disembodied information remained experientially human.  At the same time, Spiritualism naturalized the relation of information and materiality, using conventional objects to deliver information while rendering them uncanny and therefore detaching affective attachment to the materiality of information. Spiritualism intensified the authority of information, reflecting emerging informational institutions like the US Census and the Federal Postal Service, while demonstrating how, once gathered, information from the beyond was open to organization and interpretation in new modes of speculative.