Adventures at Eastern State Pen

3 years ago 2

I spent this past weekend in Philadelphia, PA at Eastern State Penitentiary. This was actually the second time I visited, the first time was last year when I went out to experience their Masquerade.  You can listen to a podcast on that here: Party at the Pen. It really is the annual do-not-miss Philly party and it’s happening again this Saturday (sorry tickets are obviously already sold out). My visit this time was under very different circumstances and for very different reasons. First, I wanted to find out more about ghost hunting and paranormal investigations. While not exactly in the same category as rollercoasters, scary movies, or haunted houses it is a form of engagement with ‘scary’ material and I wanted to learn more about how and why people go about it. It obviously holds a lot of mass appeal in the US–some of the most popular reality TV shows are based on ghost hunting (see

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Historical Institutions–the ‘real’ fear

3 years ago 1

This weekend I went to the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV and the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV. I went to these places for a couple of different reasons. First, the actual properties and buildings are beautiful (as you’ll see in the pictures, taken by the talented Amy Hollaman, who provided extra insight from her experience working at Eastern State Penitentiary). Second—these are very popular places for people to conduct ‘ghost hunts’ and try to find evidence of haunting (I wasn’t  looking for ghosts). Third, and my primary reason– I went because these are locations where we have put people society has considered to be ‘monsters.’ Part of my book is going to address how throughout history we have turned those who are different into characters to fear. I wanted to see how the spaces present the information on tours, how they “educate” the public on the histories of

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