Headspaces: Science, Fiction, and the Boundaries of the Mind in the Nineteenth Century

10 June 2021, 1800 BST. Online via MS Teams.

Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies 

Headspaces: Science, Fiction, and the Boundaries of the Mind in the Nineteenth Century 

10 June 2021 at 1800 BST, online via MS Teams 

Hypotheses and discoveries in the late-nineteenth-century mind sciences were exchanged within a network of fluid, intersecting spaces for knowledge, from laboratories and scientific periodicals to fiction, folklore, and alternative religious communities. While often complementary, the methods and theories of these competing spaces could also radically differ. At stake was not just the future direction of sciences like neurology, psychology, and psychical research (parapsychology), but the very boundaries of the mind — and, by extension, the human itself. How did this boundary-making emerge from religious and scientific views of the mind and its abilities? How did the diverse contexts of 19th-century mental science compete or cooperate in solidifying or transforming these boundaries? How did debates about the mind and its abilities re-cast the mould of the human, reconceptualising and differentiating ideas of gender, race, and (dis)ability?  

This symposium will approach these questions from within the overlapping fictional, religious, and scientific spaces of Victorian mind/brain research, exploring some of the ways in which the boundaries of the mind were stretched, constricted, and violated in the period. Prof Anna Neill (Kansas), Prof Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck), and Dr Elsa Richardson (Strathclyde) will speak on particular aspects of mind boundary-formation in the period, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr Aren Roukema (Birkbeck) and open to audience questions. 

The symposium will take place virtually via MS Teams on 10 June 2021 at 1800 BST, hosted by Birkbeck’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies 

Prof. Anna Neill (Kansas): ‘Alice, Child Development, and the Nonsense Mind.’ 

Prof. Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck): ‘The Catatonic Subject of the 1890s.’ 

Dr. Elsa Richardson (Strathclyde): ‘Ghost Hunting in the Highlands: Ada Goodrich-Freer and Scottish Second Sight.’ 

Dr. Aren Roukema (Birkbeck): Chair 

Register via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/headspaces-science-fiction-and-the-boundaries-of-the-mind-in-the-c19th-tickets-156699780261 

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