Tag Archives: Elizabeth Valentine

Oct. 2012: BPS Stories of Psychology Symposium

Following last year’s event, the British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre is again hosting a history of psychology symposium, Stories of Psychology, this fall. The event, which will be held on October 16th, 2012 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, will feature presentations from a number of prominent historians of psychology, including: Geoff Bunn, Elizabeth Valentine, Peter Lamont, and Thomas Dixon. Full symposium details, including titles of talks, follow below.

History of Psychology Symposium

Tuesday 16 October 2012 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Stories of Psychology
Archives, Histories and What They Tell Us

1.45pm-5.30pm

convened by Dr Alan Collins (Lancaster University) and Dr Rhodri Hayward (Queen Mary, University of London)
Speakers:

Dr Geoff Bunn (Manchester Metropolitan University)
The secret history of the love detector

Professor Elizabeth Valentine (Royal Holloway, University of London)
‘A brilliant and many-sided personality’: Jessie Murray, founder of the Medico-Psychological Clinic

Dr Thomas Dixon (Queen Mary, University of London)
The logic of the moist eye: Tears and psychology in the twentieth century

Dr Peter Lamont (University of Edinburgh)
Extraordinary phenomena, and what we have made of them

Attendance is free – Register online

For more information, e-mail hopc@bps.org.uk or call Peter Dillon Hooper on 0116 252 9528.

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New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

The April 2012 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. This month’s issue is a special issue, guest edited by Elizabeth Valentine, on the topic of parapsychology, occultism, and spiritualism. The eight all new articles in the issue explore the history of psychology’s relationship to spiritualism and other occult matters across the globe; most specifically in the Netherlands, the United States of America, Germany, Britain, France, Spain, Hungary, and Japan. (Pictured above is medium Eusapia Palladino, the subject of one of the issues articles, in a seance in 1898.) Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Psychical research and parapsychology interpreted: Suggestions from the international historiography of psychical research and parapsychology for investigating its history in the Netherlands,” by Ingrid Kloosterman. The abstract reads,

One of the reasons the history of parapsychology and its ancestor psychical research is intriguing is because it addresses a central issue: the boundaries of science. This article provides an overview of the historiography of parapsychology and presents an approach to investigate the Dutch history of parapsychology contributing to the understanding of this central theme. In the first section the historical accounts provided by psychical researchers and parapsychologists themselves are discussed; next those studies of sociologists and historians understanding parapsychology as deviant and even potentially revolutionary are dealt with; third, more contemporary studies are examined whereby enterprises such as parapsychology are understood as central to the culture in which they arose. On the basis of this analysis a new direction in the historiography of the subject is suggested in the fourth section, centred upon the relation between parapsychology and psychology in the Netherlands throughout the 20th century. In the Netherlands not only were pioneering psychologists such as Gerard Heymans (1857–1930) actively involved in experiments into telepathy, the first professor in parapsychology in the world – Wilhelm Tenhaeff (1894–1981) – was appointed in 1953 at Utrecht University and in the 1970s and 1980s parapsychology had its own research laboratory at Utrecht University in the division of psychology. This unique situation in the Netherlands deserves scholarly attention and makes an interesting case to investigate the much-neglected connections between the fields of psychology and parapsychology in the 20th century. The connections between psychology and parapsychology might help us to understand why parapsychology came to be regarded as a pseudoscience.

“Psychical research and the origins of American psychology: Hugo Münsterberg, William James and Eusapia Palladino,” by Andreas Sommer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

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More Talks! BPS Hist. of Psych. Seminar Series

As previously discussed on AHP (here, here, and here) the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has organized a seminar series. Two more talks in this series will be held next month. On March 6th, Egbert Klautke of University College London will be speaking on the French reception of German Völkerpsychologie before 1914. At the end of the month, Elizabeth Valentine (left) will speak of psychologists involvement with psychical research in Britain between the wars. Full seminar details, including titles, speakers, dates, and abstracts follow below.

“The French Reception of Völkerpsychologie and the Origins of the Social Sciences,” to be presented by Egbert Klautke on Tuesday 6 March, 2012. The abstract reads,

In this talk, I will focus on French readings, criticism and adaptations of German Völkerpsychologie (Lazarus/Steinthal, Wundt) before the First World War. I will show how Théodule Ribot, Emile Durkheim, Ernest Renan and Alfred Fouillée used arguments found in the writings of their German contemporaries, and present this cultural transfer as an important chapter in the making of a ‘social science’.

“Spooks and Spoofs: Relations Between Psychical Research and Academic Psychology in Britain in the Inter-war Period,” to be presented by Elizabeth Valentine on Monday 26 March, 2012 [Date updated]. The abstract reads,

The close connections between psychologists and the Society for Psychical Research in the late nineteenth century have been duly acknowledged. What is less well known is that senior academic psychologists were involved in psychical research in the early to mid-twentieth century. William McDougall and William Brown attended a number of séances arranged by Harry Price; J.C. Flugel, Cyril Burt, C. Alec Mace and Francis Aveling were members of his ‘University of London Council for Psychical Investigation’ and supported psychical research in various ways. This paper describes some of their antics and ask how reputable psychologists (and the University of London) could have collaborated with someone the Economist described as ‘a rogue, a falsifier, and a manufacturer of evidence’. Personal, metaphysical and socio-historical factors in their collaboration are discussed. It is suggested that the main reason for their mutual attraction was their common engagement in a delicate balancing act between courting popular appeal on the one hand and the assertion of scientific expertise and authority on the other. Their interaction is typical of the boundary work performed at this transitional stage in the development of psychology as a discipline.

Update: Elizabeth Valentine’s talk will now take place on Monday 26 March, 2012 (rather than the March 21st as originally scheduled).

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History of Psychology in The Psychologist

The just released December 2010 special issue of the British Psychological Society‘s general interest publication, The Psychologist, is dedicated to 150 years of experimental psychology, as this year marks the 150th anniversary of Gustav Fechner’s Psychophysics (see AHP‘s previous post on this anniversary here). Included in this issue are a number of short pieces by prominent scholars in the history of psychology, as well an interview with AHP‘s own Christopher Green. Authors, titles, and abstracts follow below.

“The experimental psychologist’s fallacy.” Geoff Bunn introduces a special issue marking the 150th Anniversary of Gustav Fechner’s Elements of Psychophysics. The abstract reads:

Considered by some psychologists to be the ‘founding father’ of experimental psychology, Gustav Fechner (1801–1887) was, to some extent, an uncompromisingly hardnosed materialist. Yet there was also a more conciliatory and spiritual side to his thinking. In 1835, for example, in his Little Book on Life After Death, Fechner argued that consciousness can be sustained by different ontological systems. The work of many of the great psychologists has subsequently incorporated similarly antagonistic dualisms. But these ineradicable tensions are ultimately a function not of the idiosyncrasies of individual biography but of the highly ambiguous nature of psychological knowledge itself. Continue reading History of Psychology in The Psychologist

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