‘Neither moral philosophy nor poetry condescends to the monstrous or the abnormal,’
Thomas De Quincey, 1848.
CNCS Postgraduate Conference
09.50 – 17.00 | Thursday 7 May 2015 | Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary’s College, Durham University
Professor Martin Willis, Chair of Science, Literature and Communication, University of Westminster
Abnormality and the Abnormal
The words ‘abnormal’ and ‘abnormality’ first emerged in the nineteenth century; contemporary usage reflects their pejorative connotations.
The first recorded use, in 1817, contrasts ‘abnormal’ with ‘healthy’, suggesting that ‘abnormality’ was initially a medical term. In medical discourse it became an ostensibly objective descriptor – in 1847 The Lancet defined abnormality as ‘something that is abnormal; an instance of irregularity.
However, the term eventually came to mean an aberration from any kind of ‘normal’ concept, behaviour, expectation, or way of being: indeed, the construction of ‘normal,’ and the values associated with normality, is itself implicated in nineteenth century constructions of the abnormal.
This one-day interdisciplinary conference aims to explore categorisations, explanations, and implications of abnormality in the long nineteenth century, asking what the abnormal can tell us about long nineteenth century constructions of aberration, deviancy, and normality.
- Conference Schedule (last modified: 16 March 2015)
- Delegate Information (last modified: 16 March 2015)
Abnormality and the Abnormal in the Nineteenth Century CNCS Postgraduate Conference Thursday 7 May 2015 Registration is FREE. Deadline for Registration is 12pm, Monday 27 April 2015. Register HERE.