Victorian Death and the Thinking Body

Autumn 2016-2017


David Womble

As biological explanations of consciousness began to supplant belief in an immaterial soul, people living in the Victorian era were left with nothing but their bodies as the source of their thoughts and feelings. Can we use a historicized notion of the body to account for “character” in the Victorian novel? How does the extraordinary prevalence of death in this fiction sharpen our sense of the thinking body, and why does this rationalized body come with so much Gothic potential? (B, G)