MU faculty members Christine and Todd VanPool examine cultural interactions with the spirit world in their new book.
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Christine and Todd VanPool

Christine VanPool, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Todd VanPool, professor and chair in anthropology

The University of Missouri has a rich history of campus ghost stories — some of which take place in the Chancellor’s Residence. Alice Read, wife of former university president Daniel Read, died in the residence in 1874, and reportedly still greets visitors by chiming a broken grandfather clock and opening and closing elevator doors.

These and other stories are all part of the supernatural mythology of Mizzou according to Christine VanPool, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology.

Christine and her husband, Todd VanPool, professor and chair in anthropology, recently wrote a book called An Anthropological Study of Spirits that examines how different cultures interact with spirits. The book contains case studies from many cultures around the world.

“Even a ghost story that’s clearly made up reflects the underlying cultural perspective of who or what ghosts are, how they interact with humans, what they want from humans, these sorts of things,”

Todd VanPool

"We weren’t concerned about true stories versus untrue stories because the nature of people’s beliefs doesn’t come down to those sorts of easy questions." Todd said. "Instead, we were trying to look at cultural impacts."