Victorian Literary Mesmerism


Victorian Literary Mesmerism examines the engagement between literature and mesmerism in Victorian writing. Drawing on recent trends in interdisciplinary literary scholarship the essays collected here investigate the complex connections between scientific mesmerism, its manifestations in the Victorian social and cultural world, and the literary imagination. Here, for the first time, the varied themes and contexts shaped by mesmeric practices are brought together in one volume. Mesmerism’s influence on phrenology, medicine and mental health; its interaction with the occult and with communication technologies; the effects of mesmeric principles on gender and sexuality, as well as on criminal behaviour, are all set within the context of literary texts that interrogate and critique mesmerism’s influence on the Victorians. This volume will be of interest, therefore, to scholars of Victorian literature and the history of science, as well as to those interested in cultural history with a focus on gender, sexuality, and sciences of the mind.

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Martin Willis is Lecturer in English at the University of Glamorgan and author of Mesmerists, Monsters and Machines: Science Fiction and the Cultures of Science in the Nineteenth Century.
Catherine Wynne is Lecturer in English at the University of Hull and author of The Colonial Conan Doyle: British Imperialism, Irish Nationalism, and the Gothic.
Martin WILLIS and Catherine WYNNE: Introduction Ilana KURSHAN: Mind Reading: Literature in the Discourse of Early Victorian Phrenology and Mesmerism Gavin BUDGE: Mesmerism and Medicine in Bulwer-Lytton’s Novels of the Occult Anthony ENNS: Mesmerism and the Electric Age: From Poe to Edison Louise HENSON: Mesmeric Delusions: Mind and Mental Training in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Writings Tiffany DONNELLY: Mesmerism, Clairvoyance and Literary Culture in Mid-Century Australia Angelic RODGERS: Jim Crows, Veiled Ladies and True Womanhood: Mesmerism in The House of the Seven Gables Martin WILLIS: George Eliot’s The Lifted Veil and the Cultural Politics of Clairvoyance Sharrona PEARL: Dazed and Abused: Gender and Mesmerism in Wilkie Collins Alisha SIEBERS: Marie Corelli’s Magnetic Revitalizing Power Mary Elizabeth LEIGHTON: Under the Influence: Crime and Hypnotic Fictions of the Fin de Siècle Catherine WYNNE: Arthur Conan Doyle’s Domestic Desires: Mesmerism, Mediumship and Femmes Fatales Notes on Contributors Bibliography Index