Emily Waples 1
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  • 1 University of Michigan
Invisible Agents
The American Gothic and the Miasmatic Imagination
in Gothic Studies
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This article argues that American medicine‘s preoccupation with atmospheric etiology shaped the American Gothic as it was instantiated by Charles Brockden Brown and developed by Edgar Allan Poe. Antebellum medical discourse, I suggest, worked in service of a paranoiac hypervigilance or what I call the \miasmatic imagination\. Read in conversation with Gothic fiction, miasma theory offers a way of conceptualizing "atmosphere" as both etiological and rhetorical: a medium for the transmission of disease and a literary technique for the transmission of meaning.

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