This chapter focuses on a largely overlooked type of archival source, namely reports written by representatives of secular authorities about supposedly haunted houses and ghostly apparitions. In the seventeenth century, the ghosts were mostly described as poltergeists incapable of meaningful exchange. The ghost had no personality and hardly any identity or history. In the eighteenth century, we encounter the rise of mediumship. Certain individuals claimed to be able to talk to ghosts. As the ghost was now regarded as a messenger from the beyond, expert mediums quickly acquired religious authority outside of the realm of the established Protestant Church. These changes in the imagination of the ghost and the Enlightenment were connected insofar as they had the same precondition: the slow erosion of the authority of the Lutheran orthodoxy.
Department of History, Philosophy and Culture
Year of publication: 2022Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-03-21
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