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The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Books (Paperback)) Paperback – October 3, 2008
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"Kaplan’s book is particularly relevant because he asserts that spirit photographs bring to the surface our deep connection with photography itself. Thus, as digital photography continues to call into question faith in the truth of photographic evidence, and religious fundamentalism continues to play a central role in contemporary politics, spirit photographs have just as much to tell us about our contemporary experience as they do about one “strange case” from the nineteenth century." —Photography and Culture
In The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer, Louis Kaplan brings together, for the first time, Mumler’s haunting images, his revealing memoir, and rich primary sources, including newspaper articles and P. T. Barnum’s famous indictment of Mumler in Humbugs of the World. Kaplan also contributes two extended essays, which offer a historical perspective of the Mumler phenomena and delve into the sociocultural and theoretical issues surrounding this vivid ghost story.
Mumler’s case was an early example of investigative journalism intersecting with a criminal trial that, at its essence, set science against religion. The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer is the definitive resource for this unique and fascinating moment in American history and provides insights into today’s ghosts in the machine.
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Kaplan points out that Mumler could not have flourished "without the intellectual and spiritual support and patronage of the religious movement known as Spiritualism." Mumler had worked as an engraver, and took photographs as a hobby. He claimed that he was completely surprised when shadow images showed up on his plates, hovering over the overt subjects of his portraits. He did believe in Spiritualism, and his wife was a medium. He was happy to have his photos stand as scientific evidence that family members who had crossed to the other side were still with us, and Spiritualist journals like _The Banner of Light_ tended to gush about his photographic successes. P. T.Read more ›