De Geest van Maju: The ghost lecture in the Netherlands


The ghost-themed optical exhibition was very popular in the nineteenth century: from Robertson’s Phantas- magoria in post-Revolutionary Paris to Pepper’s Ghost at the London Polytechnic in the 1860s, audiences rushed to witness the ghostly demonstrations, also known as ghost lectures. Recently, scholars such as Bernard Light- man and Iwan Rhys Morus have argued for a re-evalua- tion of historical practices such as these, which used to be considered mere spectacular entertainment: what was the role of these media experiences in making their audience relate to the new industrial and technological world around them? This article will focus on the arrival of the most famous of all ghost lectures, Pepper’s Ghost, which was brought to the Netherlands by Levie Kinsber- gen Maju (1823-1886): I will trace the performances of the re-labelled De Geest van Maju (The Ghost of Maju) on Dutch fairgrounds and in permanent indoor theaters. The information I have gathered derives mainly from primary sources such as historical newspaper advertisements and reports. Additionally, I will approach the historical infor- mation through the concept of dispositif, following the proposal of media historian Frank Kessler: what aspects are at work in the dispositif of the ghost lecture? And how is this approach productive in terms of understanding Pepper’s Ghost and De Geest van Maju as historically situ- ated media practices?

Ghost lecture | Pepper’s Ghost | magic lantern | L. K. Maju | dispositif

Biografia Autor

Dulce da Rocha Gonçalves, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Dulce da Rocha Gonçalves has a background
in visual arts, design and cinema. She obtained her first MA in Dramaturgy and Directing (Cinematographic Project) from the National School of Theatre and Cinema, in Lisbon. In 2018, she received her second master’s degree (cum laude) in Film and Photographic Studies from Leiden University, in the Netherlands. Her thesis focused on media archaeology and the archive. Currently she is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Utrecht University in the project ‘Projecting Knowledge — The Magic Lantern as a Tool for Mediated Science Communication in the Netherlands, 1880-1940’.

Como Citar
Gonçalves, D. da R. (2020). De Geest van Maju: The ghost lecture in the Netherlands. Revista De Comunicação E Linguagens, (53). Obtido de