'A dream of demon heads and savage eyes': traumatic violence and the body in Dickens's 'Barnaby Rudge'

Goodman, H (2015) 'A dream of demon heads and savage eyes': traumatic violence and the body in Dickens's 'Barnaby Rudge'. In: Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference 2015, 20 - 21 July 2015, University of Exeter, UK.

Abstract

Informed by nineteenth-century developments in psychiatric theory and intense debates about lunacy and criminal responsibility, this paper investigates the trauma which violence inflicts on minds and bodies in Charles Dickens's relatively unpopular early novel, "Barnaby Rudge" (1841), published in the wake of a regicide attempt. In particular, this paper focuses on the embodiment of trauma in heads and eyes, arguing that Dickens uses these body parts to pinpoint sites of psychological damage. During the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780 the streets of London bore witness to unprecedented scenes of violence, with chapels and houses ripped apart and burned, and tangled human bodies torn 'limb from limb' like wooden sticks by a furious, often drunk, and sometimes psychopathically violent raging mob under the leadership of a diminutive, hereditarily insane Scottish aristocrat. Dickens draws on historical reports of these events to represent crowd scenes with heavy use of barbaric imagery - 'coarse faces,' 'demon heads and savage eyes' drenched in dirt and blood. This paper uses three characters as case studies to investigate Dickens's representation of psychiatric conditions...

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Gordon riots, Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, William James, Alexander Bain, monomania, riots, the body, history of psychiatry
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HS Societies secret benevolent etc
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN1187 Scotland
K Law > KD England and Wales
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
R Medicine > RB Pathology
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 14:37
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2018 14:37
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)