The University of Pennsylvania Department of Religious Studies is bringing author Peter Manseau to The Woodlands for a book talk, signing, and reception. This event is free and open to the public.
Peter Manseau, Author and curator of religion at the National Museum of American History, shares the story of infamous spirit photographer William Mumler, from his new book “The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud and the Man who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost”
Following the trauma of the Civil War, the intersection of mourning on a national scale with the new technology of photography gave rise to a chilling phenomenon: “spirit photography,” the supposed art of capturing departed loved ones on film.Promoted by William Mumler (1832-1884), a jeweler turned photographer, the trend catered to grieving relatives, including Mary Todd Lincoln, who sought a tangible connection to lost loved ones. While the limits of the new medium of photography were as yet unknown, many were skeptical of Mumler’s images, especially the one that seemed to show Lincoln afloat behind his widow. The Apparitionists is a tale of fraud, the afterlife, and how the nation coped with death in the 19th century.
About The Author: Peter Manseau is the Lilly Endowment Curator of American Religious History at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. He is the author of eight books including the memoir Vows, the novel and award-winning book Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter, Rag and Bone, One Nation, Under Gods, and most recently the narrative history, The Apparitionists. Manseau is a recipient of the National Jewish Book Award, the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Jewish Literature, The Ribalow Prize for Fiction and a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. He is also a founding editor of KillingTheBuddha.com and co-author with Jeff Sharlet of Killing The Buddha, A Heretic’s Bible. He received his doctorate from Georgetown University, and lives with his family in Annapolis, Maryland.