This presentation examines the application of video data and conversation analysis in the study of paranormal experiences. Paranormal experiences can be defined as instances "in which a person perceives phenomena that appear to defy scientific explanation". In Britain alone, two-fifths of the population have reported a paranormal experience, and nearly one-fifth of Americans claim to have felt or sensed a presence. Scholars have explored the psychological and broader sociological explanations for individual experiences; however, there is currently limited research into collective paranormal events. This paper will draw upon video data of paranormal research groups and the moments in which an uncanny event occurs. These events are often subjective in nature - experienced by individuals as embodied feelings, sensations or visions. This creates an interactive challenge for those participating in paranormal groups, who seek to validate and substantiate their paranormal claims through shared experiences. Drawing upon video data, this presentation will examine how the study of multimodal activities during paranormal events can help us to understand how people share and make sense of these experiences. It will also reflect on the opportunities and challenges presented by combining retrospective ethnographic knowledge and conversation analysis in this context. Finally, consideration will be given to combining video data, ethnographic knowledge and conversation analysis, and how doing so can provide potential benefit to wider research settings. It is proposed that paranormal experiences are communicated, shared and made sense of through embodied and multimodal activities. Furthermore, these activities help not only to collectively share experience, but also to establish the uncanny quality of paranormal events.
IRONSIDE, R. 2018. Did you feel that? Multimodal interactions and making sense of uncanny events. Presented at the 4th Copenhagen multimodality day, 5 October 2018, Copenhagen, Denmark.