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Record identifier : 565435
Personal Name - Primary Intelectual Responsibility : Murison, Justine Summerhayes
Title and statement of responsibility : States of mind: The politics of psychology in American literature, 1780--1860 [Thesis]
Publication, Distribution,Etc. : University of Pennsylvania, 2006
Language of the Item : eng
Dissertation of thesis details and type of degree : Ph.D.
Body granting the degree : , University of Pennsylvania
Summary or Abstract : States of Mind argues that an emerging transatlantic medical discourse about the mind in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries became a predominant political idiom in the works of early American and antebellum authors. By the turn of the nineteenth century, physicians in the Atlantic world consolidated authority over the mind by creating a new medical field dedicated to its study. This nascent field promoted new treatments through the asylum movement and shaped a pathological vocabulary for the private, interior aspects of the self. Prominent American physicians such as Benjamin Rush and Amariah Brigham conceived these pathologies as functions of the politics of the Atlantic world and newly formed nation, which included the ever-expanding imperial boundaries of the United States, the slave trade, the rise of abolitionism, and the reemergence of periodic religious revivalism. States of Mind focuses on four distinct pathologies continually invoked in the literature of this era---somnambulism, moral insanity, hypochondria, and religious enthusiasm. When the authors central to this study---Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Montgomery Bird, Herman Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe---explicitly pathologize their characters with these diseases, they evoke in their readers the political resonances of a symptomology that would have been part of a popular psychological discourse. Indeed, their attention to psychopathology allowed them to articulate, circulate, and, at times, challenge how the private self was implicated in the putatively public concerns of Atlantic and American political, economic, and legal culture. Yet these authors do not simply replicate medical discourse; rather, they reimagine prose genres in light of psychological theory. Whereas scholars tend to read these literary representations of psychology as either a flight from the political realm or merely the manifestation of an inescapable disciplinary power, States of Mind argues that fictional ruminations on the mind and its diseases constitute some of the most compelling critiques of early American political and literary culture..
Topical Name Used as Subject : American literature
Information of biblio record : TL
 
 
 
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