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Discourse, rhetoric, and the accomplishment of mediumship in stage demonstrations

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Publication details

DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2008
DatePublished (current) - Aug 2008
Issue number3
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)222-240
Early online date23/07/08
Original languageEnglish


This paper examines the use of language in stage demonstrations of mediumship in secular contexts, such as in civic halls or hotel conference/function rooms. Focusing on demonstrations by one of the UK's leading mediums, we examine how the organization of the introduction to the demonstration works to establish a set of inferential preconditions in the audience: tacit expectations and norms which shape the audience's interpretation of subsequent events and participation in such a way as to enhance the sense that spirit communication is occurring and which, therefore, favourably dispose the audience to the reality of the medium's purported mediumship powers. In this, our study explores some properties of the discursive, rhetorical, and performative underpinnings of demonstration of mediumship and interaction with the spirits.

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