Book announcement: Insanity and the Lunatic Asylum in the Nineteenth Century

insanity and the lunatic asylum_frontThe idea of the asylum as a threat became fixed in the Victorian age. However, while patients endured terrible abuses at the hands of those working there it was also the site of advancements in medical treatment and care. Looking at asylums of the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and the United States, contributors to this collection present essays from the perspective of those who were sent there and of the place itself – its architecture, funding and purpose. Both fictional and historical sources are used to present a picture of the asylum both as it was and as it was perceived in the popular imagination.

Insanity and the Lunatic Asylum in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Thomas Knowles and Serena Trowbridge

Pickering & Chatto; HB ISBN: 9781848934528, December 2014, 256 pages, £60/$99; eBook: £24 (incl. VAT)

This title forms part of Pickering & Chatto’s series, Perspectives in Economic and Social History.


Introduction – Serena Trowbridge and Thomas Knowles
Part I: Literary
1 ‘Horrible Dens of Deception’: Thomas Bakewell, Thomas Mulock and Anti-Asylum Sentiments, c.1815–58 – Rebecca Wynter
2 ‘This Most Noble of Disorders’: Matilda Betham on the Reformation of the Madhouse – Elaine Bailey
3 The Legacy of Victorian Asylums in the Landscape of Contemporary British Literature – Thomas Knowles

Part II: Quantitative
4 Building a Lunatic Asylum: ‘A Question of Beer, Milk and the Irish’ – Bernard Melling
5 ‘Just Can’t Work Them Hard Enough’: A Historical Bioarcheological Study of the Inmate Experience at the Oneida County Asylum – Shawn Phillips
6 ‘Always Remember that you are in your Senses’: From Keeper to Attendant to Nurse – Claire Chatterton
7 ‘Atrophied’, ‘Engorged’, ‘Debauched’: Muscle Wastage, Degenerate Mass and Moral Worth in the General Paralytic Patient – Jennifer Wallis

Part III: Cultural
8 ‘Attitudes Passionelles’: The Pornographic Spaces of the Salpêtriére – Amanda Finelli
9 ‘The Poison that Upsets my Reason’: Men, Madness and Drunkenness in the Victorian Period – Kostas Makras
10 ‘Madness and masculinity’: Male Patients in London Asylums and Victorian Culture – Helen Goodman
11 ‘Straitjacket’: A Confined History – Will Wiles

To read the introduction, click here.

To view the index, click here.

About the Editors:

Thomas Knowles is based at the School of English, Nottingham Trent University. His research interests are varied and include Romanticism, Surrealism, Critical Theory, Victorian Literature, Science Fiction, the History of Madness and Psychiatry, Imperialism, Empire and Postcolonial Studies.

Serena Trowbridge is based in the School of English, Birmingham City University. Her research interests include nineteenth-century poetry, women’s history and writing, Gothic literature, nineteenth-century Anglican theology, children’s literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and Pre-Raphaelitism in art and literature.

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