The Famous Fight Over the Turn-of-the-Century Trend of Spirit Photography

In 1923 and 1924, Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini both toured the United States. They both sold out theaters, often in the same city within days of one another, and neither of them was offering crowds what they were most famous for. The author was not there to tell tales of Sherlock Holmes, and the magician did not execute his most daring illusions or escapes. Instead, spectators filled the seats to hear lectures—lectures about communing with the dead.

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Disease, Demons, and Discord—How the Vampire Myth Was Born

The vampire is a common image in today’s pop culture, and one that takes many forms: from Alucard, the dashing spawn of Dracula in the PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, to Edward, the romantic, idealistic lover in the Twilight series.

In many respects, the vampire of today is far removed from its roots in Eastern European folklore. As a professor of Slavic studies who has taught a course on vampires called “Dracula” for more than a decade, I’m always fascinated by the vampire’s popularity, considering its origins—as a demonic creature strongly associated with disease.

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The Fortunes of Mother Shipton

The story of Mother Shipton, as well as being a window on the past, is a mirror in which modern capitalism is reflected. It looks like one of the more solid of English legends: she has approximate dates; she is claimed by a definite place, Knaresborough; and she even has her own tourist attraction, in Mother Shipton’s Cave. But the closer we get, the more elusive she becomes. After picking over her bones, it turns out that the really interesting story is about the creation and promotion of folklore in the service of money-making and the marketplace. A tale that may be more common than we think…

folklorethursday.com

How Arthur Rackham’s 1907 Drawings for Alice in Wonderland Revolutionized the Carroll Classic, the Technology of Book Art, and the Economics of Illustration

In the 150 years since Lewis Carroll first told the story of Wonderland to the real-life Alice, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has attracted a number of stunning visual interpretations ranging from Salvador Dalí to Yayoi Kusama, but none more influential than those Arthur Rackham (September 19, 1867–September 6, 1939) created in 1907.

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