Hysteria and Victorian Women in Art

In ancient Greece there existed the medical concept of a woman’s “wandering womb”; that is, the womb could move about the body, obstruct breathing and press on other organs to cause various symptoms of illness. It was “an animal within an animal”, according to the celebrated ancient Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia. In the late nineteenth century, the notable French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot began his study of unusual physiological symptoms presenting in women, such as nervous anxiety, faintness, irritability, uncontrolled

Read more

Marieke Hendriksen, ‘Consumer culture, self-prescription and status: Nineteenth-century medicine chests in the Royal Navy’

This post accompanies Marieke Hendriksen’s Journal of Victorian Culture article ‘Consumer Culture, Self-Prescription, and Status: Nineteenth-Century Medicine Chests in the Royal Navy’ (2015), which can be downloaded here. In early September 2012, with my PhD thesis under review and a postdoctoral fellowship lined up for October, I arrived at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, for a five-week research project on the medicine chests in the museum’s collections. From the online collection database I had gathered that there were

Read more

Victorian Literature and the History and Philosophy of Psychology

Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University In March I had the opportunity to participate in a symposium at the British Psychological Society’s History and Philosophy of Psychology (HPP) Conference at the University of Surrey. This session was convened by Gregory Tate (Surrey), and included four papers: ‘Definitions of sanity and insanity in sensation novels by Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’ by Helena Ifill (Sheffield), ‘Diagnosis and mental trauma in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette’ by Alexandra Lewis (Aberdeen), ‘The self-diagnosis of Sydney

Read more

CFP: Special Issue Journal Call for Essay Submissions – Poetic Optimism and the Post-Enlightenment Social Identity, 1794-1878

To complement the upcoming Paranoia and Pain conference (2-4 April 2012) at the University of Liverpool (http://paranoiapain.liv.ac.uk), we are developing a collection of articles for a special issue journal of Studies in the Literary Imagination entitled ‘Poetic Optimism and the Post-Enlightenment Social Identity, 1794-1878’. This collection will explore the meaning and application of poetic optimism in relation to the question of social identity from 1794 to 1878. How is optimism shared through versification during this period? What allusive forms did

Read more