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Title: Waking dreams : Dickens and the Victorian unconscious
Author: Fitzgerald, Cathy
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis examines Dickens's fiction within the context of nineteenth-century psychology, with particular emphasis on the developing concept of unconscious thought and states such as reverie, somnambulism and trance, which were seen as borderland territories between voluntary and involuntary mental activity. Fred Kaplan drew attention to this field in Dickens and Mesmerism (1975) and the past thirty years have brought a succession of stimulating articles broadening his focus. This is the first full-length study, and it aims to consolidate this piecemeal background and spark further effort by demonstrating the many ways in which the vibrant mess of discourses that comprised the fledgling science are at play in these texts. The breadth of Dickensian work available necessitates a selective approach and I focus on novels which reveal the evolution of theories of mind during the author's career. I sift the psychological material similarly, using books owned by Dickens as a skeleton and fleshing out arguments where appropriate with concepts widely disseminated in journals. The thesis charts a shift in the novels from a type of identity based on theories of associative memory propounded by Scottish Common Sense philosophers in the lateeighteenth century, to a less stable, more fragmented self founded upon the psychophysiological work of the mid-Victorian period. It argues the associative ideal of an integrated psyche rooted in domestic reminiscence is central to the early Dickensian vision of a socially engaged middle-class identity, and suggests later novels lament the loss of this dream and construct an increasingly solipsistic and conflictual model of the genteel psyche in its place. Further, it notes the texts' engagement with philosophical warnings about the addictive nature of daydream and fantasy, and asserts they offer metafictional justification of their own status as imaginary creations by seeking to transform readers in socially productive ways.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available