Anxious Times

Medicine and Modernity in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Anxious Times demonstrates that doctors and ordinary citizens were just as concerned about the effects of modern technology in the nineteenth century as people are today, and these earlier fears can be revealing. The authors take an original approach to the relationship between technological growth and public and medical perceptions of nervousness, physical debilitation, and mental illness by examining hidden, unexpected responses to overstimulation and bringing valuable new evidence to light.”
Laura Otis, Emory University

Much like the Information Age of the twenty-first century, the Industrial Age was a period of great social changes brought about by rapid industrialization and urbanization, speed of travel, and global communications. The literature, medicine, science, and popular journalism of the nineteenth century attempted to diagnose problems of the mind and body that such drastic transformations were thought to generate: a range of conditions or “diseases of modernity” resulting from specific changes in the social and physical environment. The alarmist rhetoric of newspapers and popular periodicals, advertising various “neurotic remedies,” in turn inspired a new class of physicians and quack medical practices devoted to the treatment and perpetuation of such conditions.
Anxious Times examines perceptions of the pressures of modern life and their impact on bodily and mental health in nineteenth-century Britain. The authors explore anxieties stemming from the potentially harmful impact of new technologies, changing work and leisure practices, and evolving cultural pressures and expectations within rapidly changing external environments. Their work reveals how an earlier age confronted the challenges of seemingly unprecedented change, and diagnosed transformations in both the culture of the era and the life of the mind.

336 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

May, 2019

isbn : 9780822945512

about the authors

Amelia Bonea

Amelia Bonea is a research fellow at the Centre for Transcultural Studies, University of Heidelberg.

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Amelia Bonea
Melissa Dickson

Melissa Dickson is a lecturer in Victorian literature at the University of Birmingham.

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Melissa Dickson
Sally Shuttleworth

Sally Shuttleworth is professor of English literature at the University of Oxford.

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Sally Shuttleworth
Jennifer Wallis

Jennifer Wallis is a teaching fellow in medical humanities at Imperial College London.

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Jennifer Wallis