Novel Notions: Medical Discourse and the Mapping of the Imagination in Eighteenth-Century English Fiction

1st Edition

Katherine E. Kickel

Routledge
Published February 27, 2015
Reference - 198 Pages
ISBN 9781138868717 - CAT# Y178738
Series: Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory

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Summary

Medical, popular, and literary understanding about the imagination converged when Thomas Willis asserted that he had discovered the area of the brain that facilitated imagining. Taking this 'discovery' as paradigmatic, Novel Notions examines the reverberations of the medical investigation of the imagination in early British novels by Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, and Ann Radcliffe. It argues that one of the novel's central features was a mapping of the terrain of human cognition, imagination, and creation, as a continuation of early modern medicine's account of perceptual experience. All the novels discussed reveal a simultaneous anxiety and excitement about medicine's understanding of the relationship between the imagination and perceptual experience through narrators who reflect on the nature of authoring.

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