“She Must Be a Pure Vessel”: An Examination of a Spirit Medium Persona
Keywords:Rosemary Brown, spiritualism, gender, feminism
Rosemary Brown (1916-2001) is certainly a highly unusual case in Music History. In the 1960s, she started to notate hundreds of musical pieces that she attributed to the spirits of several great concert music composers, with whom she claimed to be in touch as a spirit medium. Brown also furnishes a promising persona case study. In order to convince the public that her music had a spiritual origin, she described herself as a simple housewife and mother with no profound musical knowledge, therefore hardly capable of writing original musical pieces in the styles of acclaimed composers. The purpose of this paper is first, to provide an examination of Rosemary Brown’s public persona; second, to relate it to spiritualist tradition, in order to demonstrate that Rosemary Brown’s persona features were available in the spiritualist cultural repertoire; third, to discuss the implications of gender for the understanding of mediumship among spiritualists.
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