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Monday, April 25, 2011

Dissertation: The Image of ldiocy in Nineteenth-Century England: A History of Cultural Representations of Intellectual Disability

I've just downloaded this dissertation from the National Library of Canada:

The Image of ldiocy in Nineteenth-Century England: A History of Cultural Representations of Intellectual Disability.  By Patrick McDonagh


Patrick McDonagh
Concordia University, 1998
Over the nineteenth century, the popular and the scientific understanding of
idiocy changed in conjunction with shifts in social concerns and the emergence
of new discourses. An examination of representations of idiocy over the century
foregrounds the manner in which the condition was given shape and meaning.
The dissertation traces the history of the idea of intellectual disability in England
from the start of the nineteenth century up to the initial articulation of eugenics,
and argues that the idea of intellectual disability acquired new significance in
the Victorian era, eventually stabilizing somewhat with the notion of the idiot as
degenerate. Political, gender, economic, religious, literary and scientific
discourses interact to weave a notion of what intellectual disability means and
how it should be interpreted. This dissertation examines the ways that idiocy is
constructed by these discourses, and to what ideological purpose, by reading
critically texts involved in the construction of the notion. These texts include
Wordsworth's The Idiot Boy," Dickens' Barnaby Rudge, Scott's Waverlev, and
Gaskell's "Half a Life-time Ago," among other literary works, as well as medical,
scientific and sociological writings. The dissertation is organized thematically
and, for the most part, chronologically to sketch out a cultural history of the idea
of idiocy, with an emphasis on delineating the factors that shaped perceptions
(the idiot as holy fool, as innocent, or as degenerate), as well as on the
ideological significance of the notion of idiocy. Throughout the dissertation,
special emphasis is placed on the relation of intellectual disability to gender
notions, and the varying interpretations of the significance of intellectual
disability when associated with men or women.

(This dissertation is 267 pages and 17MB, and it downloaded extremely slowly)

Download link (National Library of Canada):

As per the attached screenshot, select "electronic theses",  perform an ISBN search for 0612396282 and  then press "submit."

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