Reading Group on the Pseudo/Sciences of the Long Nineteenth Century (Newcastle, 20 January 2014)

In what ways did reading character off the skull in phrenology contribute to the birth of neuropsychology? How was the spectacle of the trance in mesmerism linked to the emergence of electricity, magnetism and psychoanalysis? What were the connections between the spiritualist seance, the telegraph and the telephone?

These are some of the questions the reading group on Pseudo/Science in the Long Nineteenth Century will address. We will explore the notions of ‘science’ and ‘pseudoscience’, the slippery borders between the two, and the ways in which what was deemed central or marginal to scientific practice, and who was defined as insider or outsider, was contingent on the cultural climate of the times. Why were people in the nineteenth century so fascinated with hidden forces and vibrations? In what ways were the spiritual and the psychical intertwined with the physical and with developing technologies of the age?

This reading group is a collaboration between Newcastle University School of English and the Literary and Philosophical Society. The group will meet six times a year at the Lit and Phil. Each session will be introduced by a member of the group or an invited guest who will have identified a primary text and a secondary critical reading for the group to consider.

You are warmly invited to attend the first session on Monday, 20 January 2014 between 6.00 and 7.30 pm at the Lit and Phil. Andrew Shail, Senior Lecturer in Film and English Literature, will introduce ‘John Zollner, Henry Slade and the fourth dimension’.

For more information and to download the readings please visit our  website.

About Centre for Medical Humanities

Centre for Medical Humanities
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1 Response to Reading Group on the Pseudo/Sciences of the Long Nineteenth Century (Newcastle, 20 January 2014)

  1. Kay Syrad says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I have written a novel about phrenology as a pseudo-science
    (The Milliner and the Phrenologist), set in 1865 during the popularizing revival of the practice led by the American Fowler brothers. I did much of my research in the Wellcome Library. A new edition of the novel is available from Cinnamon Press:
    and there are some details on my website
    (please note, Amazon are still advertising the old version, although they do have a Kindle version of the new edition).

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