Deformities of nature: sleepwalking and non-conscious states of mind in late eighteenth-century Britain

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Abstract

This article examines the didactic appropriation of sleepwalking reports in late eighteenth-century Britain in pedagogical treatises, conduct books, and children's literature. It examines how and why reports of sleepwalkers were used to edify young minds and in so doing traces a critical shift in understandings of sleepwalkers, which were transformed from preternatural wonders to deformities of nature that exemplified the dangerous consequences of irrational, unregulated bodies and minds. This new role was predicated on new medical and philosophical understandings of sleepwalking and on the prioritisation of developmental psychology by pedagogues and philosophers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-425
JournalJournal of the History of Ideas
Volume78
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

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