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Charlotte Brontë and Victorian Psychology


Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: December 2004
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521617178

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About the Authors
  • This innovative and critically acclaimed study successfully challenges the traditional view that Charlotte Brontë existed in a historical vacuum, by setting her work firmly within the context of Victorian psychological debate. Based on extensive local research, using texts ranging from local newspaper copy to the medical tomes in the Reverend Patrick Brontë's library, Sally Shuttleworth explores the interpenetration of economic, social, and psychological discourse in the early and mid-nineteenth century, and traces the ways in which Charlotte Brontë's texts operate in relation to this complex, often contradictory, discursive framework. Shuttleworth offers a detailed analysis of Brontë's fiction, informed by a new understanding of Victorian constructions of sexuality and insanity, and the operations of medical and psychological surveillance.

    • Draws new links between psychological/medical and literary developments in nineteenth-century England
    • Sets Charlotte Brontë's work in contemporary intellectual context for first time
    • Offers startling new evidence, through newspapers, letters, and books, of nineteenth-century thinking on psychology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Invokes primary sources to explode any persistent myths that Brontë lived in a cultural vacuum.' New Scientist

    'An excellent, illuminating book.' Rick Rylance

    '[This] has made a major contribution to Brontë studies and indicated the way forward for further studies of Brontë's work within Victorian cultural debate.' Christine Alexander, Australasian Victorian Studies Journal

    'An assured and original contributuion to the ever-expanding field of Brontë scholarship.' Anarchist Studies

    'An impressive, densely-argued book.' Journal of Victorian Culture

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2004
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521617178
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Psychological Discourse in the Victorian Era:
    1. The art of surveillance
    2. The Haworth context
    3. Insanity and selfhood
    4. Reading the mind: physiognomy and phrenology
    5. The female bodily economy
    Part II. Charlotte Brontës Fiction:
    6. The early writings: penetrating power
    7. The Professor: 'the art of self-control'
    8. Jane Eyre: 'lurid hieroglyphics'
    9. Shirley: bodies and markets
    10. Villette: 'the surveillance of a sleepless eye'

  • Author

    Sally Shuttleworth, University of Sheffield

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