I am a historian and writer who likes to talk to both scholars and the public. I study extraordinary experiences and things, past and present. I am very interested in how multimedia can be used to disseminate ideas and research.
In general terms, I am a historian of science, religion, and society in twentieth-century Britain, the U.S., and Canada. I practice multimedia history – meaning that I research history and am interested in how to transform it into a variety of media forms – potentially including scholarly articles, books, documentary films, curated exhibits, art installations, and online media. I am also a writer and have a background working in journalism, broadcasting, and media administration. At present, I reside with my partner in Bali where I have been working on my PhD dissertation. I travel extensively to experience different cultures and conduct research, having visited many places in all but two of the world’s continents over the past dozen years.
I am an active member of the Society for Psychical Research and the Parapsychological Association, and also enjoy being involved with Paranormal Studies & Investigations Canada (PSICAN). I have consulted for media projects and am actively involved in presenting at academic conferences as well as public speaking.
Below are details on my scholarly studies, social media work, talks, media experience, creative projects, and some links. A full CV is available upon request.
Present: PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
My historical research looks at how people have encountered and attempted to explain the supernatural in the twentieth century. My PhD dissertation in progress, Mischievous Forces, analyses how explanations about the poltergeist phenomenon shifted in the decades following the Second World War, especially from around 1958 to 1985. Please see my page on my PhD research, Mischievous Forces, for more information. My PhD advisor is Dr. Joy Dixon, author of Divine Feminine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), and my committee is comprised of Dr. Robert Brain and Dr. Carla Nappi.
My most recent research travels took me to North Carolina, Georgia, and England in August and September 2012, and there I presented at Exploring the Extraordinary 4 in York, England, on the historical reconstruction of a poltergeist case in Seaford, New York, in which the term “recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis” (RSPK) was coined; at the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) conference on which I spoke on psychical researchers’ historical approaches to distress among experients of anomalous phenomena and mental health issues; and an expanded version of that paper to the Centre for the History for Psychological Disciplines at University College London. I worked in the archives of Duke University, the University of West Georgia, Cambridge University, Senate House Library at the University of London, and the library of the SPR, and also attended the Parapsychological Association convention in Durham, North Carolina.
In addition to my scholarly work, I organized Multimedia Histories, a four-part seminar series at the University of British Columbia in February and March 2011 that explored alternate media through which scholars disseminate their research. I am currently compiling content for an online resource, Careers for Historians, that will benefit historians, those studying history, and those interested in history to see the wide range of career opportunities available to them.
2009: MA, History, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada
For my Master’s degree research (under the guidance of Dr. Sofie Lachapelle and Dr. Tara Abraham), I studied the concept of spirit possession and xenoglossy in historical context, which resulted in a major paper that I presented in Ireland in 2010. The paper was on a case from the 1930s of a Hungarian girl who spontaneously began speaking Spanish – a language she had not learned before. Her personality completely transformed into a woman who claimed to have died in Madrid several years earlier. My MA research also looked at a variety of topics, including historical origins and social context of the novel and film The Exorcist (under the guidance of Dr. Jacqueline Murray).
- 2008: BA (Fourth-Year Equivalent), History, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
- 2007: BA (General), History (minor Political Science), Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
- 1993: Diploma, Journalism, Grant MacEwan College, Edmonton, Alberta
- 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)
Social Media: Extraordinarium
As part of my research interests, I collect details on people’s personal encounters with the extraordinary, write on research projects, and present other items of interest online through Extraordinarium. This is a blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed on extraordinary experiences, the researchers who study them, and resources to learn more. Its purpose is to share, reflect upon, and discuss extraordinary experiences.
After a two-month research trip which included a variety of presentations, I have no upcoming talks scheduled at the moment. New talks will be posted here as they are confirmed.
Here is a list of recent talks. Abstracts for the most recent talks are linked.
- 26 September 2012: Work In Progress Seminar, UCL Centre for the History for Psychological Disciplines, University College London, England.
- “Psychical and Psychological: Approaches to Mental Health Issues in Post-War Investigations of Paranormal Claims.”
- 21-23 September 2012: Exploring the Extraordinary 4, York, England.
- “Reconstructing Seaford: A historical methodology to trace the rise of psychokinetic theory of the poltergeist phenomenon” and “The Fortean Tales of Lapis Lazu.”
- 7-9 September 2012: Society for Psychical Research, 36th Annual Conference, Northampton, England.
- “Delusions and Distress: Therapeutic Approaches in Post-War Psychical Research.”
- January 2012, Seattle, Washington: “Supernatural interpretations of late-twentieth-century snapshot photography,” University of Washington Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
- June 2010, Dingle, Ireland: “Exploring Our Supernatural World,” public talk, Nead an Dreoilín (The Wren’s Nest)
- June 2010, Galway, Ireland: “Becoming Lucía: Personality Transformation, Xenoglossy and Spiritualism in 1930s Budapest,” Science and Technology in the European Periphery
Past Media Work
I have over fifteen years of experience working in the media, including as a newspaper reporter, photographer, radio producer, and media administrator. With this experience, my aim is to produce multimedia works based on my scholarly research that brings the analytical skills I have gained studying the craft of history together with my journalistic background and interests in anthropology, visual and film arts, and storytelling.
My media career really began in my bedroom in rural Alberta in the late 1980s, discovering late night CBC Radio broadcasts that inspired me to start an underground magazine that had readership worldwide. Thereafter, I completed a diploma in journalism, worked at the Creston Valley Advance newspaper in southeastern British Columbia, and then moved to Ottawa where I created and produced a radio comedy program called Remote Planet (1999-2004) and enjoyed a year as the program director at Carleton University’s radio station, CKCU 93.1 FM (2003-2004). From 2004 to 2007, I worked with the North American Broadcasters Association in Toronto, where I helped organize broadcasting conferences. In those years, I also freelance produced radio comedy sketches and a radio pilot for CBC Radio.
I am also involved in a multimedia music project, Lapis Lazu, led by composer and visual artist Kristofir Dean. Lapis Lazu completed its first album, Ultramaru, on October 2012, and is presently working on a new EP. The fantastical is a common theme in the music: a woman is haunted by a squirrel that she taxidermed; a canary sent into the mine embarks on astral travels; a mannequin left by a dumpster reflects on her glamourous years in the shop window; as well as awkward ways to make friends, buttons on information booths, choking on tooth fillings, the joys of peppermint, and other misadventures. My primary roles are co-writing, filming, and editing video.
Further Links & CV
- At the University of British Columbia’s Department of History, including an up-to-date CV of my academic work.
- On academia.edu
- For a full CV, please contact me.