By Robert S. Cox
A fabricated from the "spiritual hothouse" of the second one nice Awakening, Spiritualism
turned the quickest starting to be faith within the kingdom throughout the 1850s, and one of many principal
responses to the common belief that American society was once descending into atomistic
In physique and Soul, Robert Cox exhibits how Spiritualism sought to
remodel sympathy into social perform, arguing that every person, dwelling and useless, was
poised inside of a nexus of impact, and during the energetic propagation of those sympathetic bonds,
a brand new and coherent society could emerge. Phenomena akin to spontaneous somnambulism and
sympathetic communion with the dead—whether via séance or "spirit photography"—were
methods of transcending the boundaries dissecting the yank physique politic, together with the ultimate
barrier, dying. Drawing both upon social, occult, and physiological registers, Spiritualism
created a different "social body structure" within which brain used to be built-in into physique and physique into
society, top Spiritualists into earthly social reforms, equivalent to women’s rights and
From the start, even if, Spiritualist political and social
expression used to be way more diversified than has formerly been famous, encompassing distinctive
proslavery and antiegalitarian lines, and within the wake of racial and political adjustments
following the Civil battle, the move started to fracture. Cox lines the eventual dissolution of
Spiritualism during the contradictions of its numerous local and racial factions and through
their more and more circumscribed responses to a altering global. in spite of everything, he concludes, the
background of Spiritualism used to be written within the limits of sympathy, and never its limitless
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Additional info for Body and Soul: A Sympathetic History of American Spiritualism
Body and Soul: A Sympathetic History of American Spiritualism by Robert S. Cox