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Record identifier : 565627
Personal Name - Primary Intelectual Responsibility : Ryan, Vanessa Lyndal
Title and statement of responsibility : The material mind: Early psychology and Victorian fiction [Thesis]
Publication, Distribution,Etc. : Yale University, 2004
Language of the Item : eng
Dissertation of thesis details and type of degree : Ph.D.
Body granting the degree : , Yale University
Summary or Abstract : Is it possible to gain access to unconscious parts of the mind? Is there an automatic self that can overpower rational or ethical decisions? In the mid-nineteenth century, a group of British psychologists transformed the conventional understanding of the nature of the mind by posing these and related questions. Their central tenet was that the mind was physiologically based, not unlike the views of neuroscientists today: what followed was their quite radical conclusion that much of the mind's activity is not conscious. This project studies the rise of this movement of psychology in Britain and shows its importance for fiction of the period, focusing on the novels of Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, and Henry James. The project aims to revise our notions of the psychological in the Victorian novel by tracing the way in which new theories of the physiology of mind influenced narrative. Physiology of mind with its concept of "unconscious cerebration" challenged the notion of the mind as predominantly rational and claimed that many seemingly conscious and willed actions are often guided by automatic, reflexive, unconscious processes. I argue that Victorian writers found in physiological psychology new and more sophisticated models for casting human intention and behavior in the novel. While the "new psychology" redrew the topography of the mind, Victorian fiction explored the problematic personal, ethical, and social implications that resulted from the new conception of the "material mind." By showing fictional characters as they interact with each other, solve problems, and make decisions, writers in the nineteenth century show Victorian psychological theories in action..
Topical Name Used as Subject : English literature
Information of biblio record : TL
 
 
 
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