Between Science and Spectacle: Hypnosis on the Belgian Theatre Scene, 1875–1900This article focuses on the performances of itinerant magnetiser/hypnotist Donato and on the public debate he generated on his travels throughout Europe. Around this time, magnetism was increasingly being presented in a new form – hypnotism – which walked the line between scientific experiment and public spectacle, navigating the realms of alternative medicine and of recognised medical therapies. This article explores Donato’s use of the trappings of science in his shows, his relationships with the medical and scientific communities, and the ban on public demonstrations of hypnotism that was introduced in Belgium in 1892. While the Belgian law revealed just how unequal the battle between magnetisers and physicians really was, it did not result in a decisive victory for the medical community, nor did it spell an end to hypnosis shows. However, it did herald the end of a brief period of intense exchange between magnetisers and academics.

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Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Wils, Kaat. (2017). Tussen wetenschap en spektakel. Hypnose op de Belgische theaterscène, 1875–1900*. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 20(2), 54–73. doi:10.18146/2213-7653.2017.332