A Video Timeline of The Modern Supernatural: From Gods to Monsters in Western History (History 296)

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A Brief History

This article presents a video timeline for students of The Modern Supernatural: From Gods to Monsters in Western History (History 296) at John Carroll University.

For each date below, please click on the date to be taken to a video covering that date’s event.  After watching that video, please post a one or two sentence comment in the comments section for the video that demonstrates that you watched the video.

These comments or “thesis statements” are 1-2 sentence summaries of the video. They should include the most important aspects of each video. In other words, the thesis statement should include the individuals involved, the time period, and significance of the event.

For example, if you watched a video on the Declaration of Independence, your comment could be something like the following: “The Declaration of Independence of 1776, originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson, formally declared the American colonies independent from Great Britain.  The Declaration also argued that all men are created equal with natural-born rights and that the government exists to secure said rights.”

Although I would prefer that you post your comments directly on the videos (every time anyone comments on one of my videos, I receive an email notification), if you are uncomfortable posting public comments on YouTube, you may instead email to me a list of your comments sent as a Word attachment.  If you email me your comments, for each comment, please be sure to include a footnote indicating what video your comment corresponds with.  To cite a YouTube video in a footnote, you should follow the following format:

AuthorFirstName AuthorLastName, “Title of Video,” YouTube video, running time, publication date, URL.

Here is an example:

Matthew Zarzeczny, “July 3, 1863: 5 Valiant but Failed Attacks (Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg),” YouTube Video, 8:22, July 6, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-x3gb11YlE.

Your comments on each unit’s videos should be completed by the date on the syllabus for when we finish that unit.

Digging Deeper

I. Course Introduction

  1. In the mid-2010s, Dr. Zar and his students gave a public presentation on the history of various sites in Ohio.
  2. On March 29, 2019, Dr. Zar and a group of his students visited the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.
  3. On November 10, 2017, the audio-book version of Simply Napoleon was published.
  4. On December 24, 2018, a cute dachshund got, played with, and defended her 2018 Christmas present!
  5. On November 4, 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter found the entrance to Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.
  6. On February 16, 1923, King Tut’s burial chamber was entered for the first time in over 3,000 years!
  7. On this day, June 21, 2017, two films featuring titular supernatural females are battling for box office supremacy at the global box office.
  8. It is January 6th, Merry Christmas! Or wait, is it just Christmas Eve?
  9. On January 14, medieval Christians celebrated Feast of the Ass Day, although perhaps not the type of “ass” you may be thinking of!
  10. On Good Friday, somewhere around 33 AD, Jesus of Nazareth, prophet to Islam and Judaism, the Christ and Savior to Christians, was crucified by the Romans in Jerusalem.
  11. On July 18, 64 AD, the center of Western Civilization, city of Rome, capital of the Roman Empire, suffered an enormous fire that devastated the city and burned for 6 days.
  12. On December 23, 962, Christian forces under Byzantine commander Nikephoros II Phokas stormed into the city of Aleppo in the Levant, earning the future Byzantine Emperor the title “Pale Death of the Saracens.”
  13. Christmas carols in the English language first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, an English chaplain, who lists twenty five “caroles of Cristemas“, probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers’ who would travel from house to house.
  14. On February 7, 1497, the followers of Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola of Florence, Italy, gathered and burned a large quantity of objects they referred to as “vanities,” objects such as cosmetics, books, artwork, mirrors, fancy clothes, playing cards, and musical instruments, any objects these religious zealots thought could lead people to sin.
  15. On January 3, 1521, Roman Catholic (Augustinian) priest and reformer Martin Luther was ex-communicated from the church by Pope Leo X.
  16. On April 10, 2018, adherents of the Anglican Church celebrate the Feast Day of St. William of Ockham, the Franciscan theologian and philosopher that gave us the logical tool known as Occam’s Razor, an idea oversimplified as ‘the briefest, most likely explanation is the best.’

II. Introducing the Modern Supernatural in Western Enlightenment and Romanticism

  1. St. Albertus Magnus died on November 15, 1280, after having reportedly built an android and discovered the philosopher’s stone, but according to the faithful his body did not deteriorate and according to Mary Shelley, his writings influenced mad scientist Victor Frankenstein!
  2. On January 31, 1747, the London Lock Hospital opened, the first clinic specifically for the treatment of venereal diseases!
  3. On January 12, 1998, 19 European nations agreed to prohibit the cloning of humans.

III. A Survey of the Modern Supernatural: The Persistence of the Ghost, The Undead, and Visitations from Heaven and Hell!

  1. On February 2, 1887 (or 1886), the first Groundhog Day celebration took place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and such celebrations have been taking place over and over again ever since (on each February 2nd)!
  2. On January 5, 1895, French Army officer Alfred Dreyfus was falsely convicted of treason for allegedly having passed along secret information to the Germans in what famously became known as the Dreyfus Affair and was sentenced to live at the dreaded Devil’s Island prison in French Guiana.
  3. On January 23, 1897, Elva Zona Heaster, about 24 years old, was found dead, later proven to have been murdered by her husband through her own ghost’s testimony!
  4. On August 10, 1901, Charlotte Anne Moberly (1846–1937) and Eleanor Jourdain (1863–1924) traveled by train to Versailles to visit the Royal Palace and grounds located there about 12 miles from the city center of Paris.
  5. On January 19, 1913, the Holly Hotel in Holly, Michigan burned for the first time!

IV. The Witch as Political Symbol

  1. On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) was put to death by being burned alive at the stake for the alleged crime of heresy.
  2. On April 11, 2019, Dr. Zar took a group of students taking his course on the Supernatural in Western History to The Cleveland Museum of Art to examine some examples of the supernatural in art.

V. From Bewitching to Possession

  1. On June 9, 2018, Dr. Zar visited Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania as part of the Dark Attraction & Funhouse Enthusiasts’ 50 Years of Devilish Fun Event.

VI. The Supernatural as Technological Document: Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Investigators versus Debunkers

  1. On January 8, 1981, a close encounter with a UFO left actual physical evidence!
  2. Based on the British equivalent of the real life Amityville Horror referred to as the Enfield Poltergeist, the major motion picture The Conjuring 2 is set to open on Friday, June 10, 2016.
  3. On Saturday, June 23, 2018, one of Dr. Zar’s relatives went on a ghost tour in St. Augustine, Florida.
  4. On March 15 through the 16th of 2019, Dr. Zar and a group of his students from the JCU Paranormal Research Group visited the Madison Seminary in Ohio.

VII. The Modern Supernatural: A Reflection

  1. On January 1, 1950, a new method of designating what year it is (or was) went into effect with the BP system, meaning “Before Present.”
  2. On January 29, 1967, the “hippie” counterculture scene melded with Hare Krishna at the Mantra-Rock Dance in San Francisco, later referred to as “the ultimate high.”
  3. On December 21, 2012, people across the globe waited for the end of the world!
  4. On January 5, 2018, the fourth movie in the Insidious horror movie series makes its opening across the US, bringing the familiar character, ghost buster Elise Rainier, back into play in a battle against evil.

Questions for students: What was the most interesting possibly supernatural event in Western Civilization and why?

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Goodman, Felicitas D.  How about Demons?: Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World (Folklore Today).  Indiana University Press, 1988.

How about Demons?: Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World (Folklore Today) (Paperback)


List Price: $25.00 USD
New From: $22.50 USD In Stock
Used from: $11.50 USD In Stock
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Rampton, Martha, ed.  European Magic and Witchcraft: A Reader (Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures).  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.

European Magic and Witchcraft: A Reader (Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures) (Paperback)


List Price: $49.95 USD
New From: $43.27 USD In Stock
Used from: $39.50 USD In Stock
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Schwartz, Alvin.  Scary Stories Treasury: Three Books to Chill Your Bones [Paperback compilation].  New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013.

Scary Stories Treasury: Three Books to Chill Your Bones [Paperback compilation] (Paperback)


New From: $21.93 USD In Stock
Used from: $14.89 USD In Stock
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The featured image in this article, The Nightmare (1791) by Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) from wartburg.edu (image) and the Detroit Institute of Art (Accession number: 55.5.A) in Detroit (described at URLhttp://www.dia.org/object-info/f222b80e-c3ba-4dd0-a705-4b14cb4f5ad6.aspx?position=2), is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: this work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less.

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About Author

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.