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. Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2000. She also argues for the importance of pain in defining surgical authority at mid-century, and that mesmerism threatened to unsettle that authority in crucial ways even as it seemed to open up new opportunities in surgery. On this reading, mesmerism has had scant justice done to it either by medical or cultural historians. Winter weaves these concerns into the story of pro I especially liked the points Winter makes about the emergence of a new way of representing consensus in Victorian Britain based in a physiological conception of mass reading publics.
In Winter's account, mesmerism was one of the last major spectacles involving the putative manipulation of hidden forces in which virtually the entire public could participate as actor, spectator, or critic without there being a consensus that some group scientists, skilled mesmerists, or the like had authoritative knowledge of the causes whether real or feigned of the phenomena. In extreme cases the mesmeric session could end like the ecstatic celebrations of a millenarian sect. There are a few careless errors, mainly of dating, scattered round for example, the London surgeons got their Royal charter in 1800 not 1843, which was when their jurisdiction was extended from the capital to England , but for anyone who wants to work on Victorian culture writ large, to think about the making of the hard sciences of mind, or indeed to ponder scientific authority in the world today, Mesmerized is a spellbinding read. Philosophers from Plato to Hume would have turned in their graves. More fundamentally, what is the nature of the powers that wield, and the influences that bind humans together in a social body?. Alison Winter's fascinating cultural history traces the history of mesmerism in Victorian society. The catalogue comprises a mixed selection of early editions, posthumous printings, modern reprints, and limited editions, relating to Aleister Crowley and his circle.
Winter's central thesis, in fact, argues that mesmerism provoked and localized simmering debates among Victorians about authority, professionalism, will, judgment, morality, knowledge, evidence, consciousness, and other fraught terms and concepts. Please have the disability coordinator at your school fill out. Alison Winter 1965-2016 was a professor of history at the University of Chicago. Mesmerism helped to change English medical practices and contributed to the rise of women as public figuresfor many female patients Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Barrett regarded their sickness and mesmeric treatment as a source of authority. Everyone, not just the doctors, felt it was within their competence so that, by the late 1840s, surgeons turned with relief to ether for relieving pain at operations rather than to be seen tinkering with dangerous in many senses magnetic fluids. Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain.
Yet along with the medical establishment, the clergy vehemently opposed this psychic practice. Everywhere marginal individuals could use it to controvert authority. From Kirkus Reviews: An exploration of Victorian culture that views mesmerism as a reflection of human interaction, gender differences, medical and scientific dilemmas, and relations of power and authority in Britain and colonial India. Winter surveys the rise and fall of mesmerism in Victorian Britain, from animal magnetism to hypnotism, including electrobiology a form of group hysteria , table-turning, and other fads. The book offers rich detail about the different stages of the use of mesmerism in medicine: its initial appearance in staged experiments; its uncertain status and the struggle to locate the boundary demarcating alternative medicines; its performance by professional medical men as well as travelers and quacks; its importance in the development of anesthesia; and its role in prompting skeptical scientists to consider the possibility of mental reflexes as one way to explain away mesmeric phenomena.
Besides the obvious concerns over a mesmerist's potential control of his subject's body, Winter includes other examples: Martineau, for instance, was criticized for telling the public, in her writing on mesmerism, about her uterine cancer. Whatever we think, the felt power of mesmerism was very strong for many Victorians, even doubters. Sensibility, mental forces, moral electricity, and animal irritability of conscience were some of the terms used to connect the spiritual and the corporeal in the nervous system. Mesmerized is both a social history of the age and a lively exploration of the contested territory between science and pseudo-science. Chicago, Illinois, University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Mesmerizedis both a social history of the age and a lively exploration of the contested territory between science and pseudo-science. Alison Winter's fascinating cultural history traces the history of mesmerism in Victorian society. Embodied within this triad were at least two of the many relations that were usually necessary for mesmerism to work: those of class and gender. 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. Not surprisingly the many threats implicit in this claim horrified the doctors. Apparently reasonable human beings twisted into bizarre postures, called out in unknown languages, and placidly bore assaults that should have caused unbearable pain.
Thousands of men and women all across Britain in the Victorian age were being mesmerized, twisted into bizarre postures and speaking out in unknown languages, and the Victorians were literally entranced with this phenomenon. Dust jacket lightly rubbed at edges, not clipped. Until now, mesmerism has had its most prominent place in the history of medicine and science as a forerunner of hypnotism in psychiatry. She taught at Cambridge University and the California Institute of Technology before coming to Chicago in 2001. Pain takes on new meaning in one particularly interesting thread that Winter coaxes from the history of mesmerism. Winter also explores mesmerism in India where, such was the confidence of the colonists, mesmerism posed far less of a threat in its exposure of the subservience of the native mind. Rather the reverse, she shows how deeply divided the Victorians were about authority, power, and control.
The book also discusses mesmerism as a form of religion, as a conduit for spiritualism and communication with the dead, as a catalyst in orchestral conducting, and as a model for liberal political consensus. The threat of mesmerism, she argues, inspired educational reforms designed to discipline the mind through scientific training, so that the British citizen could differentiate between valid scientific authority and frauds. They were used by the underdogs to challenge the natural order. More fundamentally, what is the nature of the powers that wield, and the influences that bind humans together in a social body?. Bibliography note Includes bibliographical references p.
Winter's book is long and seems at first to make almost incredible claims about mesmerism's role as a catalyst in the development of a dazzling range of Victorian cultural forms. Furthermore, she offers nuanced discussions of how the power dynamic inherent in Victorian class, race, and gender differences inflected the various types, effects, and cultural meanings of mesmerism. Institute of Technology , at the center of Victorian public attention for three decades. A captivating inquiry into a bizarre and neglected mystical phenomenon. She includes a brief discussion of the similarities between fears over mesmerism and fears over novel-reading late in the century. She taught at Cambridge University and the California Institute of Technology before coming to Chicago in 2001.
Summary Alison Winter's cultural history considers this pervasive pursuit as a central aspect of Victorian culture. Her account traces the history of mesmerism as it moved through Victorian society. 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. 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. Winter also analyzes the gendered meaning of mesmerism, in particular its potential as an alternative to, or an enhancement of the power of, invalidism for intellectual women like Ada Lovelace, Harriet Martineau, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Mesmerized is both a social history of the age and a livel 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. But pain also functions as a form of proof or disproof in the history of mesmerism.