Nervous Acts: Essays on Literature, Culture and Sensibility

Overview

Between 1970 and 2000 George Rousseau wrote a series of landmark essays about the role of nervous physiology in literature and history that altered the landscape of eighteenth-century studies. The essays changed the direction of some Enlightenment thought and configured the rise of sensibility in new ways. Since then much work has been done which engages, challenges, adopts, and expands on Rousseau's original discussions. This volume collects and reprints the most important of those essays and surveys the current...

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Overview

Between 1970 and 2000 George Rousseau wrote a series of landmark essays about the role of nervous physiology in literature and history that altered the landscape of eighteenth-century studies. The essays changed the direction of some Enlightenment thought and configured the rise of sensibility in new ways. Since then much work has been done which engages, challenges, adopts, and expands on Rousseau's original discussions. This volume collects and reprints the most important of those essays and surveys the current critical moment as it touches on the vocabularies Rousseau pioneered. The introduction surveys nerves from the ancients to the moderns, and then selects examples in literature where the literary and moral elements of nervous discourse are especially prominent. The epilogue engages with the critical reception of the original essays and provides biographical and critical reflections on the legacy of the nerves in literary scholarship.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403934543
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 3/2/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

George S. Rousseau is Emeritus Professor at De Montfort University and now attached to the History Faculty of the University of Oxford.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
• Introduction
Part I: Nerves, Spirits, and Fibres: The Contemporary Perspective (2004)
• Nerves and Neurons in Human Evolution
• Nerves and Selves in the Ancient World
• Stoicism and the Repression of Nerves
• Decadence, Luxury, and the Indulgence of Nerves in Early Christianity
• Da Vinci, Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy and the Renaissance Contexts
• The 'Nervous Body Politic'
• The Brain and the Enlightenment
• Nervous Body
• Passions, Emotion, and the Affections: Writing out the Nervous Sentiments
• The Nervous Style in English Literature: 1660-1820
• Nerves and Music: The Aesthetic Debates, 1740-1890
• Literary Nerves and Evolutionary Biology: Pre- and Post-Darwinian Development
Part II: The Cultural History of Nerves, Spirits, and Fibres (1500-1900)
• Science and the Discovery of the Imagination (1969)
• Pineapples, Pregnancy, and Pica: Nerves and the Mother's Imagination (1972)
• Nerves and Nymphomania: Bienville and Enlightenment Sensibility (1982)
• Discourses of the Nerve (1989)
• Towards a Semiotics of the Nerve (1991)
• 'Strange Pathology:' Nerves and the Hysteria Diagnosis in Early Modern Europe (1993)
• In Rapture Writ: The Body of Alexander Pope and the Nervous Poetry of the 1740s (2003)
Part III: Epilogue
• The Future of Nerves
• Index

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