I would like to see a definition of spirit medium come earlier in the introduction, simply because while I was mostly correct in my guess as to what it was, I’d like to know how you specifically are defining it in this study. It seems like an important term you should foreground more.
Do you mean “imagine” here? (paragraph 15 line 2 has “image”)
I really like how you’ve set up the history of this genre here — very informative!
Maybe this is just me being accustomed to the way typical introductions work, but I was looking for some kind of closing gesture, either towards the first chapter or the book as a whole. However, since you are being formally innovative here, it’s your choice about how you want to close this intro.
I know that at least for the eighteenth century, this is much more recent scholarship on ideas of “true womanhood” or a cognate term. Is there something more contemporary you can nod to, in addition to Welter? It’s a topic that I know is well-covered.
I’m thinking of the same paragraph here — women as guardians of morality has a history earlier than the nineteenth century, and, for example, being a private music teacher was an acceptable profession for a genteel lady in the eighteenth century (not to be that person who talks only about their own period). Do you want to specify that it’s public performance that is different here, not just the involvement in music?
Wow this is fantastic! I had no idea that the affinity between women and spirits was based on electricity!!
I would split up the sentence: “While at one point sickly women…” or remove the “states McGarry” part — it reads a bit clunky as is. Your writing is otherwise quite smooth, so it kind of sticks out!
I’m not sure if you’re thinking of Habermas here in part 12, but more recent scholarship (more recent than Walkowitz, too) has realized that the separate spheres idea is an inaccurate one (in literary and historical studies, that is). I don’t know if it’s worth citing a different source that doesn’t preserve this binary idea, or if you want to clarify in this paragraph that you are aware that the idea of completely separate spheres is a bit misleading.
This idea of pretending to less knowledge than they actually had is so great. Go, ladies!
Forgive me if you’ve said this elsewhere and I missed it, but re: section 17 — are there any statistics on approximately how many women / what percentage of women in the early twentieth century might have been involved as spiritualists?
I know (again, sorry) in my period that dutiful wives were occasionally asked to keep the books – was that true by the early twentieth century? How is that relevant here?
Actually, I’m rethinking my comment about financial accounting. Were these women all single & supporting themselves (mediums and players) or were they sometimes married? My first instinct would be that these women would of course be unmarried, but I’m obviously not the expert.
I am glad you have this section because I was just starting to wonder about the explicit connections and why you were arguing for the importance of pairing them together in this book. Perhaps you could make some of this information clearer in your introduction? Or even the introduction to this chapter?
Please feel free to comment and offer feedback, criticism, and/or suggestions.
At the end of this section, where you discuss the stereotype of a dowdy cinema player, it might be useful to include an image (a caricature?) by way of balancing the (really splendid) image of Rosa Rio.
The quotation from the 1919 American Organist comparing church organists to cinema accompanists is amazing. Makes me wonder: Is there evidence for the relative prestige of male and female church organists?
Both here and later I have difficulty with this analogy of technologies. Those employed by mediums seem pretty cheap and low-end by any standards, even those of the 19th century; while motion pictures and electric organs were among the more elaborate and expensive and quickly mass-commercialized technologies invented in the period.
Either here or somewhere else (cross-referenced from here) it would be useful to have a brief description of exactly what the Photo Player did and how it worked. From the pics I deduce that it contained some kind of memory that allowed the keyboardist to make (automatic?) sounds on additional instruments while she played a straight piano/organ instrument.
Actually, I see now that the video provides some of the explanation I was looking for a few paragraphs back –insert a clearer reference to the video?
This idea of extra scrutiny seems crucial. Were there similarly disproportionate expectations for women in other socially permitted careers? Teaching is the obvious analogy for performance.
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