‘Neither moral philosophy nor poetry condescends to the monstrous or the abnormal,’
Thomas De Quincey, 1848.
CNCS Postgraduate Conference
09.50 – 17.00 | Thursday 7 May 2015 | Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary’s College, Durham University
Abnormality and the Abnormal
The words ‘abnormal’ and ‘abnormality’ first emerged in the nineteenth century; contemporary usage reflects their pejorative connotations.
The first recorded use, in 1817, contrasts ‘abnormal’ with ‘healthy’, suggesting that ‘abnormality’ was initially a medical term. In medical discourse it became an ostensibly objective descriptor – in 1847 The Lancetdefined abnormality as ‘something that is abnormal; an instance of irregularity.
However, the term eventually came to mean an aberration from any kind of ‘normal’ concept, behaviour, expectation, or way of being: indeed, the construction of ‘normal,’ and the values associated with normality, is itself implicated in nineteenth century constructions of the abnormal.
This one-day interdisciplinary conference aims to explore categorisations, explanations, and implications of abnormality in the long nineteenth century, asking what the abnormal can tell us about long nineteenth century constructions of aberration, deviancy, and normality.
To register, please follow this link: https://www.dur.ac.uk/cncs/conferences/abnormality/