Cover: Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780–1930, from Harvard University PressCover: Strange Dislocations in HARDCOVER

Strange Dislocations

Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780–1930

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$58.00 • £50.95 • €52.95

ISBN 9780674839786

Publication Date: 06/30/1998


254 pages

6 x 9-1/4 inches


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Strange Dislocations illuminates several intriguing byways of Victorian popular culture. It also casts some provocative light on 20th-century thinking. Ms. Steedman’s most interesting pages discuss how Sigmund Freud (a Victorian, after all) drew on contemporary notions of childhood, littleness, and loss in constructing his view of the unconscious, ‘the child at the heart of the theory,’ as well as at the heart of the psychoanalytic body.—Walter Kendrick, New York Times Book Review

Carolyn Steedman’s ambitious study maps literary, scientific, and social discourses of the nineteenth century that used the figure of the child to express the interior self… Strange Dislocations is an exciting and engaging book in its range, its methodology, and its subject matter. Its explorations of the psychic investments adults have in figures of the child, particularly the vulnerable girl-child at once graceful and inarticulate, provide valuable insights for those who wish to understand how nineteenth-century writers understood the child and themselves in relation to the child. Its depiction of historiography and psychoanalysis as methodologically similar shows admirable self-awareness… [This book] is an important part of an ongoing debate about the best ways to analyze hegemony on the behalf of the historically voiceless.—Naomi J. Wood, Albion

This is a remarkable book. It is both intellectually ambitious and subtly, ingeniously written…and I am frankly enamored of the central drive of the book which is to somehow move beyond words, to argue the historical, extra-linguistic reality of the phenomenon of the Mignon child-figure, of the movement through an idea of childhood to the development of the whole modern assumption of personal identity.—George Levine, Rutgers University

Through her analysis, a very specific pattern emerges, one that describes a troubled relationship between adulthood and its past, between the voyeuristic gaze and projection of its desires…the subject, performing child and the question of interiority, was fascinating for the nineteenth century, and it still is for us today.—Marie-Hélène Huet, University of Virginia

This remarkable book roams creatively across the borderlands of normal history. By tracking images of the child and understandings of childhood through the nineteenth century, Carolyn Steedman not only builds an original argument about modern constructions of the self, of history, and of the forms of social cognition, but opens up a rich landscape of social, cultural, and intellectual analysis. Strange Dislocations is the latest work of a rare and outstanding historian.—Geoffrey Eley, University of Michigan

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