Bodily Sympathy, Affect, and Victorian Sensation Fiction

  • Tara MacDonald
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism book series (PSATLC)


This chapter reorients historical understandings of sympathy, arguing that in the Victorian period, sympathy was understood not as merely cognitive but as an affective response that was deeply embodied. It examines depictions of bodily sympathy in Victorian scientific and philosophical writing, as well as sensation fiction, a popular genre of the 1860s. Further, MacDonald argues that the Victorian writers discussed in the chapter can be aligned with recent affect theorists, who similarly displace the centrality of cognition, as well as notions of discrete personhood. The chapter ends by exploring the relationship between affect theory and the history of emotions, arguing that both can offer fruitful approaches for examining historical understandings of emotion.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tara MacDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IdahoMoscowUSA

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