Invalidism and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Nineteenth-century Britain did not invent chronic illness, but its social climate allowed hundreds of men and women, from intellectuals to factory workers, to assume the identity of "invalid." Whether they suffered from a temporary condition or an incurable disease, many wrote about their experiences, leaving behind an astonishingly rich and varied record of disability in Victorian Britain.
Using an array of primary sources, Maria Frawley here constructs a cultural history of invalidism. She describes the ways that Evangelicalism, industrialization, and changing patterns of doctor/patient relationships all converged to allow a culture of invalidism to flourish, and explores what it meant for a person to be designated—or to deem oneself—an invalid. Highlighting how different types of invalids developed distinct rhetorical strategies, her absorbing account reveals that, contrary to popular belief, many of the period's most prominent and prolific invalids were men, while many women found invalidism an unexpected opportunity for authority.
In uncovering the wide range of cultural and social responses to notions of incapacity, Frawley sheds light on our own historical moment, similarly fraught with equally complicated attitudes toward mental and physical disorder.
Confession Cure and the Hypochondriacs Narrative
Christian Invalids and the Literature of Consolation
Self Surveillance and Life in the Sickroom
Locating Invalidism in the Nineteenth Century
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Page 156 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Page 27 - Her withered brows in quaint, straight curls, like horns; And all about her clings an old, sweet smell. Prim is her gown and quakerlike her shawl. Well might her bonnets have been born on her. Can you conceive a Fairy Godmother The subject of a strong religious call?
Page 43 - Extreme busyness, whether at school or college, kirk or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality; and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity. There is a sort of dead-alive, hackneyed people about, who are scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation. Bring these fellows into the country, or set them aboard ship, and you will see how they pine for their desk or their study.
Page 60 - I never said, to man or boy, how it was that I came to be there, or gave the least indication of being sorry that I was there. That I suffered in secret, and that I suffered exquisitely, no one ever knew but I.
Page 177 - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience ; .and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Page 138 - The more I see of Italy, the more I doubt whether it be worth while for an invalid to encounter the fatigues of so long a journey, for the sake of any advantages to be found in it, in respect of climate, during the Winter. To come to Italy, with the hope of escaping the Winter, is a grievous mistake. This might be done by...
Page 90 - For my own part, despite all my ailments, or whatever may have been my cares, I have ever found exquisite pleasure in that sense of being which is as it were the conscience, the mirror, of the soul. I have known hours of as much and as vivid happiness as perhaps...