This dissertation shows the often-overlooked role that psychical research, or the study of unexplained phenomena, played in the literature of the Transatlantic Fin de Siècle. Examining the works of Fitz-James O’Brien, Henri Bergson, Bram Stoker, and Marcel Proust, I argue that the crises of temporality often discussed in literary modernism can be understood through the parallel theories proposed by psychical research. Alongside these literary primary texts, I examine psychical research from Edmund Gurney, Charlotte Anne Moberly, and Eleanor Jourdain as theoretical texts on temporality and the human self. More than contextualizing fiction with its coeval psychical research, I read these texts—fictional, philosophical, and scientific—as questioning and countering hegemonic forces of modernity. My project argues that questions of temporality and the human self that were the hallmarks of the Fin de Siècle were reactions to the homogenizing forces of capitalism and modernity. Almost every author discussed lived in a marginal position in society for one reason or another—queer, Jewish, Irish, or female. These marginal bodies felt out of sync with the dominant culture of modern society and the theories of time and the self reflect their existence within that society. By paying attention to the heterodox theories of the Fin de Siècle, we can understand the ways in which feeling out of time becomes rendered literarily, philosophically, and scientifically in texts.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2016. Major: English. Advisor: Tony Brown. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 219 pages.
Feeling Out of Time: Phenomenal Bodies and Temporality in the Fin de Siècle.
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