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Started in 1848, and presented as a scientific and rational response to the demands of the industrial world, the Modern Spiritualist Movement – still practiced today – was a heady mixture of evangelical and non-conformist religion, political agitation and popular entertainment. Whilst its adherents included mystics and magicians, its base was in working class communities, and it was intrinsically linked to political campaigns, particularly the anti-slavery movement, working class protests and the campaign for women’s suffrage. Assuming the role of the medium, women found a unique opportunity to give political speeches – in the guise of channeling a spirit – without transgressing social boundaries.
Mimicking the techniques of political and scientific pamphlets from the nineteenth century and combining Spiritualist ephemera with interviews, Olivia Plender’s graphic novel explores the hidden history of this movement.
A Stellar Key to the Summerland is published as part of Singular Sociology, a project curated for Book Works by Nav Haq.