Duffy, Larry (2010) Monomania and Perpetual Motion: Insanity and Amateur Scientific Enthusiasm in Nineteenth-Century Medical, Scientific and Literary Discourse. French Cultural Studies, 21 (3). pp. 155-166. ISSN 0957-1558.
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This article traces the cultural history of a recurrent association made in nineteenth-century French medical, scientific and literary texts between variants of 'monomania' - a broad term denoting obsessive fixation on a particular object in a subject presumed otherwise sane - and amateur scientific enthusiasm, specifically for perpetual motion, a phenomenon long acknowledged as impossible, and metonymy for similar chimera. A reading of alienist texts in conjunction with literary texts - emblematically, Zola's La Bete humaine, which links human and thermodynamic dysfunctionality - reveals that a specifically homicidal monomania is closely linked with the specific delusion that perpetual motion is possible, at the very moment when monomania is superseded, or considerably modified, by degeneration theories, when the degenerative nature of thermodynamic engines becomes widely accepted, and when disciplinary power - in Foucauldian terms - supersedes sovereignty.
|Uncontrolled keywords:||amateur science; cultural history; Michel Foucault; monomania; perpetual motion; psychiatry; Emile Zola|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures|
|Divisions:||Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > French|
|Depositing User:||Fiona Godfrey|
|Date Deposited:||28 Aug 2012 15:31|
|Last Modified:||31 Aug 2012 09:49|
|Resource URI:||http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/30309 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)|
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