Abnormality and the Abnormal in the Nineteenth Century: Conference

Abnormality Research Network

The ‘Abnormality and the Abnormal in the Nineteenth Century’ postgraduate conference opened with an engaging keynote address by Professor Martin Willis (University of Westminster) entitled ‘The Case of the Soho Sleeper: Catalepsy, Care, and the Politics of Seizures’. Professor Willis used a high-profile case of catalepsy from 1887, known to the Victorian press as the Soho Sleeper, to argue that such conditions produce conceptions of the abnormal, and also of the normal from which the cataleptic was understood to have moved away.

Professor Willis’s talk initiated a productive conversation ranging from the ethics of care to the methodology of research. The first panel of the day, ‘The Social and Political Function of Abnormality’, featured three methodologically diverse papers, which each dissected various ways in which a concept of abnormality can be created in the service of a particular ideology. The second panel, ‘Abnormality and the Body’, offered literary, archaeological, and…

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