Upcoming and past talks. Dr. Laursen is available to give talks, presentations, and seminars on his research projects and studies. Please contact him if you are interested.
Most Recent Talk
No upcoming talks scheduled yet. But a new four-week online course, Premonitions, begins on Tuesday, May 17. For more information, go to Teaching.
My most recent talk was “Stopping Clocks: Precognition, Time, and Trauma around the 1966 Aberfan Disaster.”
On the morning of October 21st, 1966, around 100,000 tons of coal waste slid a third of a mile down a Welsh hillside. It engulfed a village school and 16 houses. In this, 144 people lost their lives, 116 of them children, mostly aged 7 to 11. The impact of the flowslide stopped a clock at 9:13 a.m.
Responding to the scene in Aberfan, an English psychiatrist, John Barker, heard local people tell of dreams and omens of the disaster before it happened. Wondering if others had foreseen the tragedy, Barker worked with the London Evening Standard science correspondent Peter Fairley to seek premonitions from people across the United Kingdom. That, along with a parallel call by the Oxford Institute for Psychophysical Research, garnered a collection of 150 precognitive dreams, visions, and uncanny feelings.
Speculation arose: what if a mass collection of potentially precognitive experiences could provide an early warning system that could prevent such tragedies? Could this defy time to save lives? Various organized attempts have been made to explore this possibility, including Barker and Fairley’s own Premonitions Bureau.
The social and cultural historian Christopher Laursen enhances the context to recent publications exploring premonitions around the Aberfan tragedy, including the writer Sam Knight’s new book The Premonitions Bureau and Alan Murdie’s study of the Oxford Institute for Psychophysical Research collection.
Often the premonitions are left out of the greater history of the Aberfan disaster. Likewise, narratives on the premonitions neglect the life-altering scope of the disaster. The two become separate stories. What can we learn when we consider them together? Could a unified narrative help clarify the nature of precognition, time, and trauma?
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Thursday, May 5
Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena
7 pm UK time
Free to members | £5 for annual digital membership
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Friday, May 6
4 pm Pacific | 7 pm Eastern
Online donation-based event
- 5 May 2022: Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, United Kingdom (virtual) and 6 May 2022: The Rhine, Durham, North Carolina (virtual): “Stopping Clocks: Precognition, Time, and Trauma around the 1966 Aberfan Disaster.”
- 7 April 2022: Lambton County Archives, Wyoming, Ontario (virtual): “The Baldoon Mystery” with Rick Fehr. You can watch a YouTube video of this presentation here.
- 28 October 2021: Anishinabek Educational Institute, Canada (virtual): “The Haunted History of Baldoon” with Rick Fehr.
- 25 September 2021: Seriously Strange conference, United Kingdom (virtual): “Haunted Histories and Psychic Naturalism.”
- 17 June 2021: Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, United Kingdom (virtual): “The Poltergeist in the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena’s First Decade.”
- 16 November 2019: College Day at the University of North Carolina Wilmington: “First Contact: Transformative Encounters with the Unexpected.”
- 2 August 2019: The Rhine, Durham, North Carolina: “Deepening Our Understanding of Psi Experiences.”
- 5-8 June 2019: Society for Scientific Exploration Conference, Broomfield, Colorado: “Implementing Interdisciplinary Intermediatism: Emerging Methods to Bring Consilience” (Poster)
- 8 November 2017: Philosophy & Religion Society, University of North Carolina Wilmington: “Imaginary Companions: Tulpas, between Religion and Psychology, from Tibet to the Internet.”
- 28 October 2017: College Day at the University of North Carolina Wilmington: “Frontier Sciences.”
- 10 June 2017: Novayana Society for Eastern and Western Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta: “Opening Channels with the Poltergeist.”
- 3 February 2017: The AZIRE, Online: “Parapsychology and the Poltergeist.”
- 27 January 2017: The Rhine, Durham, North Carolina: “The Super Natural & The Self: The Dynamics of Paranormal Experiences.”
- 19 January 2017: The Jung Center, Houston, Texas: “The Super Natural & The Self: The Dynamics of Paranormal Experiences.”
- 30 November 2016: Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene (IGPP), Freiburg, Germany: “Reimagining the Poltergeist Experience.”
- 21 November 2015: The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Ontario: “The Poltergeist.” Part of Dora García’s Saturday Encounters for her exhibition I SEE WORDS, I HEAR VOICES.
- 1-6 November 2015: Further Reaches of the Imagination, Esalen Center for Theory and Research, Big Sur, California: “The Physical Metaphysical.”
- 1 August 2015: Lily Dale, New York: “The Poltergeist as Spirit or Thought-Form.”
- 20-24 October 2014: Imaginal Symposium, Esalen Center for Theory and Research, Big Sur, California: “The Making of the Twentieth-Century Poltergeist: Psychokinesis, Imagination, and Pop Culture.”
- 25 September 2014: Eva Brook Donly Museum & Archives, Simcoe, Ontario: “The Baldoon Mystery.”
- 21-23 March 2014: Exploring the Extraordinary 6, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: “Of Thy Neighbour: Investigating who and what’s next door in cases of hauntings.”
- 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, University of Washington Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference, Seattle, Washington: “Supernatural interpretations of late-twentieth-century snapshot photography.”
- June 2010, Nead an Dreoilín (The Wren’s Nest), Dingle, Ireland: “Exploring Our Supernatural World.”
- June 2010: Science and Technology in the European Periphery, Galway, Ireland: “Becoming Lucía: Personality Transformation, Xenoglossy and Spiritualism in 1930s Budapest.”