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Conference Papers Year : 2011

Mesmerism in the Dublin University Magazine and Sheridan Le Fanu

Abstract

The Dublin University Magazine, “the supreme archive of Irish Victorian experience” according to W.J. Mc Cormack (1991), devoted a large number of essays to mesmerism and animal magnetism, especially in the 1840s. These articles, signed (often by Henry Ferris) or published anonymously, present the reader with stories of mesmeric phenomena from all over Europe and even India. Strange practices are recounted in minute detail; doctors involved in their study, like German-born Dr. Kerner, are mentioned with respect, and different theories, either spiritualist or materialist, are proffered to the reader. Mesmerism becomes a catch-all word, linked to witchcraft, magic, possession, and nervous disorders alike. This paper aims to examine the seriousness with which mesmerism is treated in the very conservative DUM, and to point out the variety of editorial angles offered on otherwise unaccounted for health disorders, years before the publication of Robert B Carter’s On the Pathology and Treatment of Hysteria (1853). A mention of the links between these articles and the tales of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (first a contributor, later an editor and the owner of the DUM, and also the inventor of Dr Hesselius, a “metaphysical” doctor) will conclude the presentation.

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hal-01135235 , version 1 (25-03-2015)

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  • HAL Id : hal-01135235 , version 1

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Gaïd Girard. Mesmerism in the Dublin University Magazine and Sheridan Le Fanu. Medicine at the margins: ideas, knowledge and practice from c. 1500 to 2000, History Division and the Research Centre for Literature, Arts and Science (RCLAS), Apr 2011, Glamorgan, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-01135235⟩
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