Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Silvestri, Michael S

Committee Member

Grubb , Alan

Committee Member

Shockley , Megan T


This thesis looks at the spiritualist weekly Light through Late Victorian, Edwardian, and World War I Britain. Light has never received any extended coverage or historical treatment yet it was one of the major spiritualist newspapers during this part of British history. This thesis diagrams the lives of Light's first four major editors from 1881 till the end of World War I and their views on the growth of science, God, Christ, evolution, and morality. By focusing on one major spiritualist newspaper from 1881 till 1920, this thesis attempts to bridge the gap in spiritualist historiography that marks World War I as a stopping or starting point.
This continuous historical treatment of Light and the ideas developed by the editors in the paper from late Victorian England to the first years following World War I allows various trends to be correctly analyzed. One such trend is the revival of 'traditional' images and definitions of God and Christ during World War I. While the two Edwardian editors of Light, Edward Walter Wallis and David Gow had steadily moved the paper away from traditional Protestant definitions of God, the war brought them back to the forefront.
This revival further demonstrates that the secularization of British society was incomplete and even temporarily reversed during World War I. In addition this thesis provides fresh insight into the spiritualist movement in general. It demonstrates that the individualistic nature of spiritualism allowed it to shift and morph into whatever a follower wished it to be. This characteristic made spiritualism an extraordinarily difficult movement to classify for it could maintain both conservative and liberal tendencies and personalities within it.



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