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Grant number: FT-249028-16

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Matthew Rebhorn
James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA 22807-0001)

Mind-Body Relationship in Animate Body in Antebellum American Literature

A book-length study of the relationship between mind and body in antebellum American literature.

This project explores the interface between debates about the mind-body relationship in the antebellum period and the production of American letters. Building on early medical archives, this project explores the way artists imagined the animate body--that is, a body that seems to have a mind of its own--using it to achieve two interrelated ends. First, by wrestling with this conceptualization of the body, they changed how people read a novel, why people acted the way they did, and what constituted the rhythm of poetic expression. Second, by understanding the body in this way, these artists articulated a new kind of subjectivity for figures often linked to their bodies, such as chattel slaves, working-class laborers, and women. As I argue, some of the most aesthetically innovative as well as some of the most politically resistant modes of expression in the antebellum period were catalyzed by the way these various artists “minded the body.”

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2016 – 7/31/2016