This talk explores how film portrays, and accounts for, extrasensory phenomena in a society shaped by scientific, rational principles. Though the history of film abounds with the mysterious, the spooky, and the occult, pinpointing the true locus of the paranormal in our modern world is notoriously difficult. Typically, the first stop is the horror genre and the criminological investigations that accompany it. Who evicted the old woman from the house, the woman who later put a curse on the property and whose ghost now drives new tenants mad? Then there is the police inspector-cum-medium who always finds the culprit yet whose preternatural abilities go unquestioned. The lack of closer scrutiny is all the more astonishing considering that the few psychological thrillers combining scientific curiosity and the paranormal have gone on to become award-winning cult classics.
Natascha Adamowsky is Professor of Digital Media Technologies at the University of Siegen, where she works on media aesthetics, knowledge cultures, epistemology of participation, and media history. She is the author of Ozeanische Wunder: Entdeckung und Eroberung des Meeres in der Moderne (2016); Mysterious Science of the Sea, 1775–1943 (2015); Das Wunder in der Moderne: Eine andere Kulturgeschichte des Fliegens (2010); and Spielfiguren in virtuellen Welten (2000).