Sprites, spiritualists and sleuths: the intersecting ownership of transcendent proofs in the Cottingley Fairy Fraud

Bihet, Francesca (2013) Sprites, spiritualists and sleuths: the intersecting ownership of transcendent proofs in the Cottingley Fairy Fraud. In: Afterlife: 18th Postgraduate Religion and Theology Conference, 8-9 March 2013, University of Bristol. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

'Fairies Photographed: An Epoch Making Event', headlined the 1920 Christmas Strand Magazine. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes, revealed the infamous Cottingley fairy photographs to the world. This paper explores the backdrop of intersecting meanings overlaid upon this case. After WW1 many sought solace in Spiritualist and Theosophical movements following the death of soldiers. Doyle also championed this cause, his eminence supporting many mediums, spiritual photographers and the congruent Cottingley affair, as proof of otherworldly occurrences. This paper examines the polarisation between the rational sleuth Holmes and Doyle's incredulous beliefs which were played out in the popular press. An investigative mode dominates Cottingley literature, setting up further polarisation and conflict. In addition, competing meanings attributed to the images, from the girls' play fantasy to supporting evidence for adults' Theosophical and Spiritual faith are examined. These created tension and conflict at the boundaries of public discussion in turn affecting the public reception of the infamous photographs. This paper is an unabridged version of the paper given for the Afterlife: 18th Postgraduate Religion and Theology Conference, 8th-9th March 2013 at the University of Bristol.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cottingley Fairies; Arthur Conan Doyle; Spiritualism; Sherlock Homes; Theosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary history > PN905 Folk literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Research Centres > Centre for Folklore, Fairytales and Fantasy
Departments > English and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Debbie Bogard
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2014 15:41
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2014 15:41
URI: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/1167

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