Strange Fits of Passion: Epistemologies of Emotion, Hume to Austen
Stanford University Press, 1996 - 240 pages
This book contends that when late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writers sought to explain the origins of emotions, they often discovered that their feelings may not really have been their own. It explores the paradoxes of representing feelings in philosophy, aesthetic theory, gender ideology, literature, and popular sentimentality, and it argues that this period s obsession with sentimental, wayward emotion was inseparable from the dilemmas resulting from attempts to locate the origins of feelings in experience.
The book shows how these epistemological dilemmas became gendered by studying a series of extravagantly affective scenes: Hume s extraordinary confession of his own melancholy in the Treatise of Human Nature; Charlotte Smith s insistence that she really feels the gloomy feelings portrayed in her Elegiac Sonnets; Wordsworth s witnessing of a woman poet reading and weeping; tearful exchanges between fathers and daughters in the gothic novel; the climactic debate over the strengths of men s and women s feelings in Jane Austen s Persuasion; and the poetic and public mourning of a dead princess in 1817.
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aesthetic affective ancholy Anna Seward Anne Anne's argues Austen cause century chapter character Charlotte Smith Charlotte's death claims culture discussion eighteenth Elliot Emily emotion empiricism epistemological essay example experience expression extravagant fantasy feelings female feminine feminism fiction figure Freud gender genre gothic novel Harry Gill Helen Maria Williams Hume Hume's ideas Kames Lady language late eighteenth-century literary literature Lyrical Ballads melancholy mind mourning Musgrove Mysteries of Udolpho nature nineteenth-century Northanger Abbey nostalgia novel of manners object origins pain passage personification Persuasion philosophical pleasure poem poem's poet poetic poetry political Poor Susan popular psychoanalysis questions Quincey quotation quoted Radcliffe Radcliffe's readers reading relation relationship representation response romantic romanticism scene seems sensation sense sensibility sentimental sexual Smith's social sonnet sonnet 64 story Strange Fits suffering suggests sympathy synecdoche tears tion Treatise University Press ventriloquism voice weeping Wentworth woman women words Wordsworth's writing
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