Although we have come to regard 'clinical' and 'romantic' as oppositional terms, romantic literature and clinical medicine were fed by the same cultural configurations. In the pre-Darwinian nineteenth century, writers and doctors developed an interpretive method that negotiated between literary and scientific kwledge of the natural world. Literary writers produced potent myths that juxtaposed the natural and the supernatural, often disturbing the conventional dualist hierarchy of spirit over flesh. Clinicians developed the two-part history and physical examination, weighing the patient's narrative against the evidence of the body. Examining fiction by Mary Shelley, Carlyle, the Brontes and George Eliot, alongside biomedical lectures, textbooks and articles, Janis McLarren Caldwell demonstrates the similar ways of reading employed by nineteenth-century doctors and imaginative writers and reveals the complexities and creative exchanges of the relationship between literature and medicine.
Janis McLarren Caldwell practiced emergency medicine for five years before pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature. She now teaches literature and science at Wake Forest University, where she is an Assistant Professor of English. An expert in nineteenth-century literature and medicine, she has received grants for research at Cambridge University and at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Janis McLarren Caldwell
Cambridge University Press
Date of Publication
Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature & Culture