Dr. Christopher Laursen is a social and cultural historian of religions, science, and nature focusing on modern America, Britain, and the world. He is based at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW). He teaches both online and in person for Graduate Liberal Studies, History, Religious Studies, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on the history of medicine and the sciences, environmental history, animal history, history of religions, microhistory, and the history of experiences which have transformative sociocultural effects. He was awarded with UNCW’s Excellence in eLearning Award in 2018. Learn about his course offerings, projects, and talks, or contact him through this website.

Images of Dr. Laursen’s courses, publications featuring his writing, and presentations.

  • The cover of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute's Spring 2020 course catalogue with a description of Christopher Laursen's course The Modern Supernatural offered from March 25 to April 15.
  • The 'zine project Christopher created with artist and design Sylvana d'Angelo shows her artwork with the image of a classical statue and the publication itself.

STUDIES OF OUR “SUPER” NATURE

Dr. Christopher Laursen studies how people experience and try to explain extraordinary things. This is more than something “supernatural” – although that popular term is a great way to delve into such experiences. These are things that actually show us what it is to be human. Christopher’s studies and teaching focuses on:

  • dreams and visions that inspire experiencers in meaningful ways
  • interactions with other species and with the physical world that expand how people conceive nature and consciousness
  • the ways in which human intuition creates new knowledge or ways of being

While commonly reported across history and in all sorts of different cultures, experiences and encounters on the boundaries of consciousness and nature have tended to be socially marginalized or misunderstood. In spite of doubts and pop culture misrepresentation, our commonly reported extraordinary experiences continue to enrich human understanding on the meanings of life. These experiences deserve a place at the table rather than being stigmatized.

Christopher bridges the humanities and grassroots public work to enable people to better share their extraordinary experiences. To tangibly explore moments and processes that contribute to how individuals define their lives. In turn, such exploration expands how we can grasp the nature of consciousness and the nature of things. The purpose of such education is to improve people’s lives and their relationship with the natural world and each other.

This is achieved by contextualizing the greater body of such experiences through historical, cross-cultural perspectives – and learning from the life experiences shared with one another.

Christopher holds a PhD in History from the University of British Columbia (2016), and an MA in History from the University of Guelph (2009). His work has appeared in Jeffrey J. Kripal’s Super Religion (2016), Jack Hunter’s Damned Facts (2016), and the magazine Fortean Times. He co-authored a chapter, “Psychic Naturalism,” with scholar of indigenous and religious studies Elorah Fangrad and scholar of environmental studies Rick Fehr in Greening the Paranormal (2019), edited by Jack Hunter for August Night Books, an imprint of White Crow Books. Most recently, Christopher has a chapter in Believing in Bits: Digital Technology and the Supernatural edited by D.W. Pasulka (American Cosmic, Heaven Can Wait) and Simone Natale (Supernatural Entertainments) published by Oxford University Press. His PhD dissertation examined how modern Britons and Americans changed how they explained and studies the poltergeist phenomenon from 1848 to the 1990s. His latest work seeks to better enable people to share their extraordinary experiences in ways that contributes to the humanities’ role in consciousness studies.


MEDIA

The 'zine project Christopher created with artist and design Sylvana d'Angelo shows her artwork with the image of a classical statue and the publication itself.

5 December 2018: Paranormal Activity (trans)formation (Vancouver: Zine Club, 2018) is a ‘zine project, the second collaboration between Christopher and Vancouver-based artist and ‘zine publisher Sylvana d’Angelo. It features various paranormal experiencers recalling a specific moment in an experience they had in a sentence or two, followed by an annotation on how it transformed how they see the world. It is being shown at the Vancouver Art Book Fair, Prague Zine Fest, the Los Angeles Book Fair, and Miss Read in Berlin.

The logo for Mysterious Universe on a purple background.

16 April 2018: Robbie Graham, author of Silver Screen Saucers and editor of UFOs: Reframing the Debate, interviewed Christopher about his doctoral and current research in relation to the poltergeist phenomenon for Mysterious Universe. Click here to read the interview.

The cover of the web story from University Affairs with the publication's logo and headline "Making sense of the paranormal." The subheading reads "Researchers from various disciplines are seeking not to debunk strange events, but rather to understand how people engage with them, and what this reveals about the human experience."

7 Feb 2018: Diane Peters interviewed Christopher among many other Canadian scholars on the topic of studying the paranormal in University Affairs. An excellent overview of some fascinating research. Click here to read her article.


COURSES

Click here for more on Dr. Laursen’s courses.


TALKS

Click here for a list of Christopher’s talks.


PUBLICATIONS

Click here for a full list of Christopher’s publications.