Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain

Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain

by Alison Winter
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226902234

ISBN-13: 9780226902234

Pub. Date: 04/28/2000

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Across Victorian Britain, in castles and cottages, rectories and pubs, and even hospitals and churches, thousands of women and hundreds of men were put into mesmeric trances. Apparently reasonable human beings twisted into bizarre postures, called out in unknown languages, and placidly bore assaults that should have caused unbearable pain. The Victorians were…  See more details below

Overview

Across Victorian Britain, in castles and cottages, rectories and pubs, and even hospitals and churches, thousands of women and hundreds of men were put into mesmeric trances. Apparently reasonable human beings twisted into bizarre postures, called out in unknown languages, and placidly bore assaults that should have caused unbearable pain. The Victorians were literally entranced - mesmerized - with this phenomenon. Alison Winter's cultural history considers this pervasive pursuit as a central aspect of Victorian culture. Winter describes who was entranced, who did the entrancing, why mesmerism was such a compelling experience to so many, and how to others it became powerful evidence of fraud and "unscientific" behavior. Her account traces the history of mesmerism as it moved through Victorian society. As a result, Mesmerized is both a social history of the age and a lively exploration of the contested territory between science and pseudoscience. It provides an illuminating and original perspective on the Victorian social body and on 19th-century culture in general.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226902234
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
04/28/2000
Edition description:
1
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
1,030,418
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: An Invitation to the Seance1
1Discovery of the Island of Mesmeria15
2Animal Magnetism Comes to London32
3Experimental Subjects as Scientific Instruments60
4Carnival, Chapel, and Pantomime79
5The Peripatetic Power of the "New Science"109
6Consultations, Conversaziones, and Institutions137
7The Invention of Anesthesia and the Redefinition of Pain163
8Colonizing Sensations in Victorian India187
9Emanations from the Sickroom213
10The Mesmeric Cure of Souls246
11Expertise, Common Sense, and the Territories of Science276
12The Social Body and the Invention of Consensus306
Conclusion: The Day after the Feast345
Notes355
Bibliography409
Index453

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