The eleven essays collected in The English Malady: Enabling and
Disabling Fictions adopt perspectives from a variety of disciplines
Aihistory, sociology, music, theater, and literary studies Aiin
order to examine manifestations of and writing about hysteria in
Europe during the long eighteenth century. The collection
demonstrates not only that hysteria was an important cultural
metaphor for the Enlightenment Aia fact sometimes obscured by
scholarly emphasis on the study of hysteria as a nineteenth and
early twentieth-century phenomenon Aibut also that the period Aos
writers sometimes considered hysteria a blessing as well as a
curse. Implicit in the various arguments of this collection is the
suggestion that hysteria might be considered an expression of early
modern ambivalence about the emergence of modernity.
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