Next Article in Journal
Two 1916s: Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way
Next Article in Special Issue
Personal Narratives of Mental Illness: Redressing Madness in the Singaporean Fiction of Amanda Lee Koe
Previous Article in Journal
“Divided by a Common Language”: The Use of Verbatim in Carol Ann Duffy and Rufus Norris’ My Country; A Work in Progress
Previous Article in Special Issue
“Our Self-Undoing”: Christina Rossetti’s Literary and Somatic Expressions of Graves’ Disease
Article Menu
Issue 1 (March) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010059

Spectral Sterility in Bucknill and Tuke’s A Manual of Psychological Medicine and Bulwer Lytton’s A Strange Story

Department of English, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA 19081, USA
Received: 2 February 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 23 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medical Narratives of Ill Health)
  |  
PDF [282 KB, uploaded 27 March 2019]

Abstract

This essay identifies and examines a narrative structure—here called the sterility plot—that is shown to recur in British mid-19th century psychiatric texts and imaginative literature engaging mental science. Treating physicians Bucknill and Tuke’s A Manual of Psychological Medicine and novelist Bulwer Lytton’s A Strange Story as influential case studies, it explores in particular the Gothic-styled spectralisation used by both Victorian medical and literary authors to characterize females whose mental disorders are depicted as bound with a short- or long-term inability to reproduce. The narratives thereby gender, pathologise, and suspensefully dramatise the plot trajectory of mentally ill patients’ clinical and fictional case histories, which, taken together, is argued to reveal mid-century medico-cultural anxieties about the health of Britain’s imperial future being threatened by potentially sterile Englishwomen. View Full-Text
Keywords: literature and medicine; gender studies; disability studies; Victorian studies literature and medicine; gender studies; disability studies; Victorian studies
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Mera Ford, N. Spectral Sterility in Bucknill and Tuke’s A Manual of Psychological Medicine and Bulwer Lytton’s A Strange Story. Humanities 2019, 8, 59.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Humanities EISSN 2076-0787 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top