Glasgow MHRC discussion group, Wed 25th Nov 2015

1-2pm, Wednesday 25th November 2015

Arden Hegele (Columbia University), ‘Pathography and Romanticism’

Discussant: Professor Deborah Dixon (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)

In this talk, I investigate the relationship between lifewriting and the medical case study by considering their intersection in the 19th-century genre of the ‘pathography’ — the autobiographical narrative of illness. I argue that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a fictional pathography that adopts generic tenets exemplified in the historical 1726 manuscript testimonies of Mary Toft (which are held at Glasgow University). The hybridity of the pathographic form generates narratorial unreliability in both patients and doctors, and is connected thematically to monstrosity through textual copia and nested narration –features that we see not only in Frankenstein, but also in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Romantic pathography illuminates and interrogates the notions of authority, wholeness, and normality that continue to sustain both modern medical discourse and literary criticism.
Discussant: Professor Deborah Dixon (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)

All discussion sessions take place between 1-2pm in Room 311 in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, East Quad. Directions are available here. Tea, coffee and cake will be provided.

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