Special Collections and Department of Theatre Arts to Present “Scholarly Séance” on October 29

Reanimating Spectral Collections

Click the image for more information.

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Haunted tales of ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and other spirit creatures will soon take over the University of Miami Special Collections, transforming the eighth floor of the Otto G. Richter Library into a spectral wonderland. The library department, which preserves a wide range of rare books, manuscripts, and other unique materials is collaborating with the Department of Theatre Arts to present a “scholarly séance” channeling eerie insights from the Jackie Gleason Collection and other texts from the realm of parapsychology.

Theater students will perform readings from several notable scholarly and popular texts, mainly from the Gleason Collection, delving into a variety of mysterious and otherworldly topics that range from local encounters with the paranormal (e.g. phantoms at the Biltmore Hotel) to past reflections on death and dying.

All members of the UM community as well as the public are invited to attend Reanimating Spectral Collections on October 29, 7 p.m., at Special Collections. Refreshments will be served at the event, but seating is limited, so an RSVP is required to attend.

Special Collections Head Cristina Favretto says the event is centered on accounts of the paranormal, the unidentified, and all things shudder-inducing from the holdings of the Jackie Gleason Collection, which includes more than 1,700 books, journals, and publications collected by actor Jackie Gleason. “Jackie Gleason studied spiritualism and the occult for most of his adult life and was quite a serious scholar on these subjects,” Favretto says.

After the world famous entertainer and star of The Honeymooners died in 1987, his widow, Marilyn Gleason, donated his parapsychology archive to Special Collections. The vast collection of scholarly and popular works includes writings on witchcraft, folklore, extrasensory perception (ESP), UFOs, reincarnation, mysticism, and many other aspects of parapsychology. The Gleason Collection, which also includes a smaller portion of materials related to the entertainment industry, is permanently housed at Special Collections and accessible to researchers.

“These are materials that are considered highly important to the field of parapsychology but also hold significance to literature, popular culture, scientific investigation, and mystery,” Favretto says.

For more information about the Jackie Gleason Collection, please contact asc.library@miami.edu or call 305-284-3247. For questions about the event, or to RSVP, contact richterevents@miami.edu or call 305-284-4026.