by Dr. Scott Cashman, Ph.D., Manager for CE Personal and Cultural Enrichment
I sometimes get asked how a college can teach classes about paranormal phenomenon. Scientists say it is not science. Paranormal investigation as seen on TV isn’t really science. I understand that completely and yet I think that paranormal phenomena is something that is worthy of study on a couple different levels.
First, the social sciences have been interested in ghosts, spirits, and religion for a hundred years or more. The simple definition of culture holds that it is the things that groups of people know and do. There certainly is widespread agreement that ghosts and spirits exist in cultures around the world. The !Kung of Africa know that all illness comes from dead ancestors. The Vietnamese know that “angry ghosts” are the result of improper burials and ceremonies. These “angry ghosts” also make people sick. The Ifaluk of Papua New Guinea know that all bad behavior is caused by ghosts. So as an anthropologist, when I teach about ghosts, I get people to understand how cultures around the world understand them and the role that they play in the lives of the living.
GHOSTS OF CHICAGOLAND (LLI 1189-100): Learn the folklore surrounding Chicago’s supernatural realm. Chicago was settled amidst the tumult and violence of the frontier. Clashes with Native American tribes and the British military made life in early “Checagou” less than peaceful. Monday, 8/14 1-3 p.m., Instructor: Ursula Bielski. This is a Lifelong Learning (55+) course.
MORE THAN MERE GHOST STORIES: INVESTIGATING FOLKLORE – ONLINE (LAA 0114-W01): Noted paranormal historian Ursula Bielski goes online to describe places and events that have transcended folklore to become important paranormal investigations. She covers important Chicago paranormal sites such as Lincoln Park and the old City Cemetery grounds, Robinson Woods, and Bachelors Grove, as well as events including the crash of Flight 191, the Iroquois Theater Fire, and the Eastland Disaster. Also examined are incidents from around the country including the Borden murders, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Galveston Flood. Ursula is an author and the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. She holds an M.A. in American cultural and intellectual history. 10/2-10/27, ONLINE, Instructor: Anne Bielski.
So, are ghosts real? Anthropologists will tell you that every culture we know of has ghost and spirits. But we’ll empower you to make that determination based on evidence by asking the right questions not by employing random techniques.
Register online now or call 847.925.6300.