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Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain

Across Victorian Britain, apparently reasonable people twisted into bizarre postures, called out in unknown languages, and placidly bore assaults that should have caused unbearable pain all while they were mesmerized. Alison Winter’s fascinating cultural history traces the history of mesmerism in Victorian society. Mesmerized is both a social history of the age and a lively exploration of the contested territory between science and pseudo-science.

"Dazzling. . . . This splendid book . . . gives us a new form of historical understanding and a model for open and imaginative reading."—James R. Kinkaid, Boston Globe

"A landmark in the history of science scholarship."—John Sutherland, The Independent

"It is difficult to imagine the documentary side of the story being better done than by Winter’s well-researched and generously illustrated study. . . . She is a lively and keen observer; and her book is a pleasure to read purely for its range of material and wealth of detail. . . . Fruitful and suggestive."—Daniel Karlin, Times Literary Supplement

"An ambitious, sweeping and fascinating historical study. . . . Beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and well-illustrated."—Bernard Lightman, Washington Times

Read an excerpt.

480 pages | 23 halftones, 59 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1998

History: British and Irish History

History of Science

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: An Invitation to the Seance
1: Discovery of the Island of Mesmeria
2: Animal Magnetism Comes to London
3: Experimental Subjects as Scientific Instruments
4: Carnival, Chapel, and Pantomime
5: The Peripatetic Power of the "New Science"
6: Consultations, Conversaziones, and Institutions
7: The Invention of Anesthesia and the Redefinition of Pain
8: Colonizing Sensations in Victorian India
9: Emanations from the Sickroom
10: The Mesmeric Cure of Souls
11: Expertise, Common Sense, and the Territories of Science
12: The Social Body and the Invention of Consensus
Conclusion: The Day after the Feast


North Am. Conference on British Studies: British Council Prize

Northeast Victorian Studies Association: Sonya Rudikoff Award

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