Confronting the Spectral: A History of Ghosts in the Western World With Lisa Morton - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Confronting the Spectral: A History of Ghosts in the Western World With Lisa Morton

3 sessions
$65 per person
See Dates
$65 per person
$65 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do


This course has already started! However, you can still join if you’d like to (and we hope you will!). Students enrolling after the course start date and time will have access to a recording of the first session (which will be emailed to participants within 72 hours) as well as the option to attend remaining sessions live. Please select the “Join Late” ticket type to enroll after the course has begun. 


In this three-part lecture series, explore how people have thought about ghosts through time in the Western world.

Course Description

In this course, we'll trace the history of ghostly encounters reported across the Western world, both friendly and nefarious. We'll begin with ghosts from the classical world who haunted heroes like Gilgamesh and Odysseus, and look at the Biblical story of Saul and the Witch of Endor. We'll meet medieval necromancers, Victorian spiritualists, and finally, the modern ghost-hunter. By the end of our time together, you'll not only have a deep understanding of how cultures have conceived of the most common supernatural entity throughout history, but also ideas and suggestions for engaging in your own supernatural investigations. 

Syllabus at a Glance

This course includes three total sessions, each lasting for 1 hour on three Mondays beginning January 22.

Session 1 (Monday, 1/22, 7–8:00 PM ET) | From Gilgamesh to the Victorians

We'll explore the earliest history of ghosts, including Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, and Biblical stories; cover medieval necromancers; and learn how the Victorians fell in love with the seance. 

Session 2 (Monday, 1/29, 7–8:00 PM ET) | Who You Gonna Call (in the 20th century)? 

We'll cover early scientific investigation of ghosts, including spirit photography and audio recording; the first great ghost-hunters; and ghosts in 20th-century literature and film.

Session 3 (Monday, 2/5, 7–8:00 PM ET) | Today's Ghosts

In our final session, we'll take an in-depth look at modern theories regarding spirits and ghost-hunting, including a close examination of equipment and the use of mediums and psychics.

Between Sessions

Students will be given recommended readings and materials that touch on the topics covered in class.

Pricing Options

This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.

Community Guidelines for Students

Please take a moment to review our community guidelines for students, which aim to share our classroom ethos and help set the stage for the best possible learning experience.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

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Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

About Your Instructor
Lisa Morton
Lisa Morton

Lisa Morton is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading authorities on Ghosts & Halloween. She is the author of several acclaimed and award-winning books, including Ghosts: A Haunted History, Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances,Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense (2018, co-edited with Leslie S. Klinger), and Haunted Tales: Classic Stories of Ghosts and the Supernatural (2022, co-edited with Leslie S. Klinger). She has appeared in documentaries on CBS, ABC, NBC, the History Channel, the Travel Channel, and more, and has guested on dozens of radio shows (including Coast to Coast) and podcasts. She lives in Los Angeles, where she turns her front yard into a cemetery every October. 

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Dates and Availability

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