Literature, Neurology, and Neuroscience: Historical and Literary Connections

Literature, Neurology, and Neuroscience: Historical and Literary Connections

1st Edition - November 25, 2013

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  • Editors: Anne Stiles, Stanley Finger, François Boller
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444632739
  • eBook ISBN: 9780444632753

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This well-established international series examines major areas of basic and clinical research within neuroscience, as well as emerging and promising subfields. This volume on the neurosciences, neurology, and literature vividly shows how science and the humanities can come together --- and have come together in the past. Its sections provide a new, broad look at these interactions, which have received surprisingly little attention in the past. Experts in the field cover literature as a window to neurological and scientific zeitgeists, theories of brain and mind in literature, famous authors and their suspected neurological disorders, and how neurological disorders and treatments have been described in literature. In addition, a myriad of other topics are covered, including some on famous authors whose important connections to the neurosciences have been overlooked (e.g., Roget, of Thesaurus fame), famous neuroscientists who should also be associated with literature, and some overlooked scientific and medical men who helped others produce great literary works (e,g., Bram Stoker's Dracula). There has not been a volume with this coverage in the past, and the connections it provides should prove fascinating to individuals in science, medicine, history, literature, and various other disciplines.

Key Features

  • This book looks at literature, medicine, and the brain sciences both historically and in the light of the newest scholarly discoveries and insights


Neuroscientists, psychologists, neurologists

Table of Contents

  • Series Page



    Recommended Additional Readings

    Part 1: Literature and Neuroscientific Discoveries

    Chapter 1. The Overlooked Literary Path to Modern Electrophysiology: Philosophical Dialogues, Novels, and Travel Books


    1 Plato’s Torpedo

    2 Aphra Behn’s (Soon to be Electric) “Eel”

    3 Adanson’s Catfish

    4 Conclusions


    Chapter 2. Oscar Wilde and the Brain Cell


    1 Introduction

    2 Scientific Aestheticism

    3 The Neuron

    4 Cell politics



    Chapter 3. Forgetting the Madeleine: Proust and the Neurosciences


    1 A Taste of the Madeleine

    2 Interdisciplinary Proust

    3 Neuroscience Confirms Proust

    4 Proust Sells!

    5 Neuroaesthetics

    6 Conclusion


    Chapter 4. Optograms and Criminology: Science, News Reporting, and Fanciful Novels


    1 The Murder of Emma Jackson (1863)

    2 Franz Boll and Photochemical Bleaching of the Retina (1876–1877)

    3 Kühne, Photochemical Transduction, and “Optograms” (1877–1881)

    4 Optograms in Fiction After Boll and Kühne

    5 Optograms, Journalism, and Murder Investigations from the 1880s to the 1920s

    6 The Villisca Ax Murders (1912)

    7 The murder of Joseph Bowne Elwell (1920)

    8 Conclusion



    Part 2: Theories of Brain and Mind in Literature

    Chapter 5. Phrenology and Physiognomy in Victorian Literature


    1 Phrenology: the Background

    2 Thomas Love Peacock (1785–1866) (Fig. 1)

    3 Thomas Hood (1799–1845) (Fig. 2)

    4 Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) (Fig. 3)

    5 Charles Dickens (1812–1870) (Fig. 4)

    6 Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855) (Fig. 5)

    7 George Eliot (1819–1880) (Fig. 6)

    8 William Schwenck Gilbert (1836–1911) (Fig. 7)

    9 Epilogue



    Chapter 6. Neurological and Psychological Constructs in Sheridan Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly


    1 Brief Biographical Information

    2 The Case Files of Doctor Hesselius

    3 Conclusions



    Part 3: Making Literary Connections

    Chapter 7. Lord Byron’s Physician: John William Polidori on Somnambulism


    1 Formative years and Edinburgh

    2 The Allure of Somnambulism

    3 Polidori on Somnambulism

    4 Case Studies

    5 Treatment and prevention

    6 The Significance of Polidori's Thesis on Somnambulism

    7 Literary connections


    Chapter 8. Return of the Living Dead: Re-reading Pierre Flourens’ Contributions to Neurophysiology and Literature


    1 Introduction

    2 “I want to be an Académicien…”: Flourens’ Early Years and Career

    3 Science and Medical Journalism as a Source for Understanding Flourens’ Place in the History of Neuroscience?

    4 Progress and Posterities Past: Relationships Between Writing, Writing Style and Posterity in Science and Science Journalism

    5 Conclusions


    Chapter 9. Peter Mark Roget: Physician, Scientist, Systematist; his Thesaurus and his Impact on 19th-Century Neuroscience


    1 Early years and medical education

    2 The Emerging Physician–Scientist

    3 More Lecturing and Scientific Societies

    4 The Encyclopaedia Britannica

    5 “Cranioscopy” and “Phrenology”

    6 Other encyclopedias

    7 Optics and Illusions

    8 Bridgewater Treatise

    9 Retirement years


    Chapter 10. Bram Stoker’s Brother, the Brain Surgeon


    1 Introduction

    2 Thornley’s Early Life and Scientific Education

    3 Thornley as Brain Surgeon

    4 Thornley’s Animal Rights Advocacy

    5 Thornley’s Influence on Dracula


    Chapter 11. Gustave Flaubert, Charles Dickens, and Isaac Pulvermacher’s “Magic Band”


    1 The Medical Electricians

    2 The Great Exhibition

    3 Isaac L. Pulvermacher

    4 The Chains

    5 Neurological Cures

    6 Gustave Flaubert

    7 Charles Dickens

    8 Conclusion



    Chapter 12. Alexander Forbes, Walter Cannon, and Science-Based Literature


    1 Introduction

    2 Alexander Forbes

    3 Walter Bradford Cannon

    4 Conclusion



    Part 4: Creativity and Aesthetics

    Chapter 13. Neurology, Poetry and the First World War of 1914–1918


    1 The First War Poet to Volunteer for Service

    2 A Frustrated Neurologist Writes Poetry

    3 Henry Head’s Friendship with Thomas Hardy

    4 Poets in Important Occupations Related to Medicine

    5 Lament for Lost Relatives

    6 Poets Looked to the Future

    7 The poets are commemorated


    Chapter 14. Epilepsy in Dostoevsky


    1 Introduction

    2 The Epilepsy of Dostoevsky: Clinical History

    3 Dostoevsky’s Doctors: Medical History and Neurology in the Nineteenth Century

    4 Epilepsy in the Literature of Dostoevsky

    5 Dostoevsky’s Epilepsy in the Medical Literature

    6 The So-called Epilepsy of Dostoevsky (with Ecstatic Auras) and the intellectual aura or Dreamy State

    7 The syndrome of Dostoevsky?: Interictal behavioral changes in temporal lobe epilepsy

    8 On the good use of epilepsy: Final comments



    Chapter 15. Mindblindness: Metaphor and Neuroaesthetics in the Works of Silas Weir Mitchell and Simon Baron-Cohen


    1 Sources of Mindblindness as Metaphor

    2 Mitchell’s Spectrum Disorder of Seeing in When All the Woods are Green

    3 Neurosexism in Mitchell and Baron-Cohen

    4 Extreme Boys: Learning to See

    5 Empathy and the Ideal Female (Brain)

    6 Sexual Selection and Assortative Mating

    7 Conclusion


    Chapter 16. Literary Aesthetics: Beauty, the Brain, and Mrs. Dalloway


    1 Beauty and prototypes

    2 Beauty, emotion, and nonanomalous surprise

    3 Some further problems with and aesthetics of prototypes and patterns

    4 Mrs. Dalloway

    5 Conclusion



    Volume in Series

Product details

  • No. of pages: 368
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2013
  • Published: November 25, 2013
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444632739
  • eBook ISBN: 9780444632753

About the Serial Volume Editors

Anne Stiles

Affiliations and Expertise

St. Louis University, USA

Stanley Finger

Affiliations and Expertise

Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

François Boller

François Boller

François Boller, M.D., Ph.D. has been co-Series Editor of the Handbook of Clinical Neurology since 2002. a board-certified neurologist currently Professor of Neurology at the George Washington University Medical School (GW) in Washington, DC. He was born in Switzerland and educated in Italy where he obtained a Medical Degree at the University of Pisa. After specializing in Neurology at the University of Milan, Dr. Boller spent several years at the Boston VA and Boston University Medical School, including a fellowship under the direction of Dr. Norman Geschwind. He obtained a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where he was in charge of Neuroscience teaching at the Medical School and was nominated Teacher of the Year. In 1983, Dr. Boller became Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh where he founded and directed one of the first NIH funded Alzheimer Disease Research Centers in the country. In 1989, he was put in charge of a Paris-based INSERM Unit dedicated to the neuropsychology and neurobiology of cerebral aging. He returned to the United States and joined the NIH in 2005, before coming to GW in July 2014.

Dr. Boller’s initial area of interest was aphasia and related disorders; he later became primarily interested in cognitive disorders and dementia with emphasis on the correlates of cognitive disorders with pathology, neurophysiology and imaging. He was one of the first to study the relation between Parkinson and Alzheimer disease, two processes that were thought to be unrelated. His current area of interest is Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders with emphasis on the early and late stages of the disease. He is also interested in the history of Neurosciences and is Past President of the International Society for the History of Neurosciences. He was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Neurology, the official Journal of the European Federation of Neurological Societies (now European Academy of Neurology). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and a member of the American Neurological Association. In addition, he has chaired Committees within the International Neuropsychological Society, the International Neuropsychology Symposium, and the World Federation of Neurology (WFN). He has authored over 200 papers and books including the Handbook of Neuropsychology (Elsevier).

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Neurology, George Washington University Medical School, Washington, DC, USA

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