Item – Thèses Canada

Numéro d'OCLC
Smith, Lisa Michelle,1975-
Feeling as a new organ of knowledge :nineteenth-century physiological psychology and George Eliot's fiction.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 2008
Ottawa :Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque et Archives Canada,[2012]
4 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
<?Pub Inc> This thesis situates Eliot's theory of feeling and perception in relation to developments in the emerging discipline of nineteenth-century physiological psychology. While drawing on a range of psychological texts, I focus on the work of Herbert Spencer, George Henry Lewes, and Alexander Bain, all three of whom leant only qualified support to a discourse which insisted on the importance of attaining rational control even while understanding the mind as subject to physical laws operating apart from consciousness. In spite of undermining the Cartesian mind/body divide, nineteenth-century physiological psychology generally reinforced the view that yielding to passion constitutes a failure of self control associated both with a subjection to the body and with femininity. In Chapter One, I argue that as early as Janet's Repentance , Eliot envisions a regenerative function for the involuntary current of emotion and privileges the sense of touch as the model on which all perception is based. What I call an "epistemology of immediate sensation" forms a cornerstone of Eliot's theory of realism but is later called into question in light of concerns associated with physiological theory which are the focus of Chapter Two; according to Spencer, Bain, and Lewes among others, strong emotion is a disturbing factor in the mind/body economy, and perception itself is mediated. Next, I suggest that The Lifted Veil expresses skepticism about the viability of Eliot's epistemology given that the boundaries of the self may be violated by an influx of feeling and that perception may be a projection impelled by desire. Middlemarch , the subject of my fourth and final chapter, reinstates Eliot's earlier epistemology, but the progressive narrative in Adam Bede and Janet's Repentance is replaced by a discontinuous model of self-development marked by a series of energy-draining shocks. Strong feeling is nonetheless the prerequisite for escaping a blind solipsism which Middlemarch implies would otherwise be our fate. My conclusion suggests that in Eliot's final novel, the link between physiological psychology and a theory of perception that is the hallmark of Eliot's realism becomes tenuous; in Daniel Deronda, desires tend to create their own dream world apart from an external reality.