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Investigating the Origins of the Paranormal: Reality, Entertainment and Man...

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Goldsmiths University

New Cross

London

SE14 6NW

United Kingdom

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Paranormal beliefs have become extremely widespread in recent years, and are now a focus of many forms of popular entertainment (with paranormal themes informing many contemporary films, TV dramas and reality shows). Why is this? Why do so many of us believe in paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, and Bigfoot? Are such beliefs harmful or even dangerous? In examining the origins, history and contemporary significance of the paranormal, this course critically uncovers some of the ways in which paranormal beliefs not only help us in dealing with the anxieties of living in a rapidly changing, globalised world, but also how those beliefs have been subject to political manipulation around issues of race and national identity.

Whilst social media and online sources have played an important role in popularising the paranormal, these sources often offer incomplete and uncritical perspectives; alternatively, this course offers participants the opportunity to discuss and debate the contemporary importance of the paranormal in an engaged, academically-informed and enthusiastic manner with Justin Woodman: a social scientist and anthropologist who has researched the impact and significance of paranormal for the past 15 years.

As such, the course is not concerned with either proving or disproving the existence of particular paranormal phenomenon, but with providing participants with a developed critical framework for understanding both the psychology of paranormal beliefs, and how paranormal beliefs shape our social, cultural and political understandings of the modern world in often surprising and unexpected ways. In doing so, the course introduces you to the history and contexts of the concept of ‘the paranormal’, with a focus on the following: ghosts and hauntings; psychic powers and parapsychology; ufos, alien encounters and alien abduction narratives; conspiracy theories and urban legends; monsters, ‘living’ dinosaurs and ‘cryptozoology’ (the study of unknown animals); historical anomalies and ‘lost’ or ‘hidden’ civilizations.

This a ten-week short course with weekly sessions from 6.30pm-8.30pm

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Goldsmiths University

New Cross

London

SE14 6NW

United Kingdom

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