Chapter 1 explores the literature and art that contributed to the construction of an exclusive classical elite male Grand Tour narrative. It sets the scene for Chapter 2 by showing that women threatened the masculine foundations on which the Grand Tour narrative functioned and were therefore prevented from accessing the Tour’s classical legacy of taste.
This introduction outlines the scope of the book, its methodology and approach, and gives a brief discussion of historiography. The text sketches in broad strokes what examining the experience and representation of madness tells us about Victorian masculinity. This includes a study of sufferers, families, and the culture at large. It argues that the social, medical, and personal explanations of men’s insanity point to increasing anxieties about manhood and civilization in general over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century.
The Introduction outlines the primary purpose of the book – that is, to view the souvenir through a gendered lens – and its central research questions. It lays out the book’s three-part structure, which reflects three overlapping arenas for representing travel in the eighteenth century: connoisseurship, science and friendship. After establishing the significance of the souvenir, the Introduction proceeds to address four subjects in turn. Firstly, the woman tourists, the elite women who feature in the book, are introduced. Their involvement in the Grand Tour and domestic tourism within Britain is foregrounded in the history of the origins of the Grand Tour in the late seventeenth century. Secondly, gendering eighteenth-century travel: this study is placed within the scholarship on eighteenth-century women’s travel, travel literature, collecting and connoisseurship. The third and fourth subjects of the Introduction are two interrelated sets of challenges posed by gendering the souvenir. One is theoretical and concerns determining how women related to the objects they brought home, the other is methodological and concerns interpreting both the objects themselves and how they were represented in text. The third subject is gendering the souvenir: the theoretical frameworks of Walter Benjamin, Susan Stewart and Beverley Gordon are introduced and used to theoretically foreground the subject. Finally, reflecting on the souvenir: the scope, benefits and limitations of the methodology are discussed.
Chapter 6 is about the curiosity cabinet of the supreme traveller of this book, Lady Elizabeth Holland. Born into immense slave-based wealth as the only child (and universal heiress) of Richard and Mary Vassall, the proprietors of three Jamaican sugar plantations, Elizabeth had the economic clout to establish a name for herself as a scientific patron through travel collecting. All sources indicate that she did this because she had a genuine interest in science, which stemmed from its popularity at the time as an accessible polite pursuit for women and also her imperial connections. The natural resources from the New World provided Elizabeth with the means to build a collection of objects from Europe and across the globe that in turn imbued her with a worldly air and cosmopolitanism appropriate to her status as an heiress and the wife of a major figure in Whig politics. The chapter analyses how Elizabeth used the collection of specimens of natural history to establish a familiarity and ease amongst Europe’s key scientists on her Grand Tour from 1791 to 1796. It uncovers how she developed this network following her return home, arguing that the exchange and display of an ever-increasing array of objects, stemming from her Grand Tour, was a key mechanism by which Elizabeth contributed to the social circulation of science.
This chapter continues with the voice of the patient, but rather than focusing on those who were ashamed of their fate, here the patients fought back. Individuals and advocacy groups challenged diagnoses both inside and outside the asylum. This chapter explores how men fought back against certification and incarceration and attempted to restore their public reputations or regain their freedom. The chapter outlines the boundaries of madness, and the debate over the line between eccentricity and madness. Here Chancery lunacy cases take centre stage, widely publicized in the press as men of wealth and position battled to prove their sanity. Such situations were the worst-case scenarios for families of status and influence and demonstrate a complete breakdown in family coherence. The chapter ends with a series of case studies which played out in the public eye, exploring how and why different men challenged their diagnoses. Men’s chief justification for telling their stories can be grouped into three main motivations: an attempt to reassert their patriarchal control, an attempt to regain their freedom, and a desire to restore their reputation.
Stories of violence, danger, and men out of control
This chapter places media representations of madness as its central focus. Stories of madmen as perpetrators of violence made for sensational copy, and thus they are overrepresented in media coverage. These narratives reveal larger anxieties of the modern age, and the fragility of established rules and norms of society. The fear that madness could strike at any moment, and that a man could suddenly fall victim to an irrational and violent breakdown, was particularly gendered as male. Madwomen were often portrayed as victims whereas madmen were often portrayed as perpetrators of violence, both within the home and within the asylum. These media panics are perhaps the most public expressions of underlying anxieties about the threat that madness posed to everyday people and highlight the deep stigmas of men’s mental illness. In assessing media trends, clear gender- and class-based panics emerge. In particular, the figure of the working-class madman who murders his family highlights fears of domestic instability. And stories of sudden madness emphasized deeper fears about the state of British manhood and the dangers of modern technology.
The second half of the nineteenth century saw the establishment of a national network of asylums across Britain. Asylums were sites of both enormous hope and dashed expectations. This chapter explores why some people embraced institutionalization, and why others did not. It gives readers a brief overview of the structures of asylums, rules of admission for different classes, and types of conditions, and builds on the strong institutional histories of asylums. It provides information about the diversity of asylum experiences, from the elite institutions for the wealthy, to the mass pauper asylums, to the criminal asylum. The Victorian asylum was born out of optimism, flourished in an era of no better alternatives, and quickly became a symbol of failed expectations. I focus on the male experience of incarceration, and how this experience was particularly destabilizing for those used to being in control of themselves and their families. Men also proved particularly difficult patients to control if they were prone to violence. This chapter introduces the typical experience of madness in the Victorian era that saw the asylum as at least a part of most men’s curative treatment.
While some families hid their family members away in dark corners, victims of neglect and cruelty, others kept loved ones at home under expert care and keen attendance. This chapter explores men who were treated at home, sent to travel, or lived in the community. Diversity is underscored both in patient experiences and the reasons for choices of treatment. I emphasize the complex negotiations between patients, doctors, and families in decisions of care. While many madmen likely left no trace in the historical archive, there are many examples when single care went wrong, and families were forced to admit to authorities that they needed help. This includes men at all income levels. Case studies highlight the complex family dramas involved when a man of wealth and power refused treatment and would not be restrained. This chapter also explores the abuse that patients suffered outside of official legislation and sometimes within their own homes.
Out of his Mind is a study of the consequences of a diagnosis of insanity for men, their families, their friends, and the culture at large. Studying the madman allows for an exploration of the cultural expectations of male behaviour, how men responded to those norms in their lived experiences, and what defined the bare minimums of acceptable male behaviour. Men’s authority in society was rooted in control over dependants within their household and beyond; without that power, the foundation of their manhood was in question. As such, madness touched on a key tenet of nineteenth-century masculinity: control. Building on accounts from sufferers, doctors, government officials, journalists, and novelists, Out of his Mind offers insight into the shifting anxieties surrounding men in mental distress. Exploring everything from wrongful confinement panics, to cultures of shame and stigma, to fears of degeneration, this study makes an important contribution to histories of gender and medicine. This text puts the madman at the centre of the history of Victorian masculinity and helps us better understand the stigma of men’s mental illness that continues to this day.
This chapter puts the patient at the forefront of analysis and is deeply influenced by recent trends in the history of emotions to interrogate shame and stigma. The value-laden diagnostic system of Victorian lunacy meant that patients were often held responsible for their own breakdowns. Without a thorough understanding of the causes of mental illness, ‘intemperance’ was often used as a cover for any disease doctors believed was self-inflicted. Both patients and their families were well aware that men could be blamed for their mental breakdown, leading to shame and secrecy. This chapter outlines the intellectual framework of this culture of shame, and how patients struggled within this context. The ideal late Victorian man was above all things in control of himself and his place in the world. A man who lost control of his mind and his emotions struggled to retain his sense of manhood. When men felt culpable for that loss, their shame added an extra layer of humiliation. In particular, when a man’s madness was associated with alcohol or sex, internal and external pressures of shame intensified. Often patients were hardest on themselves, and doctors feared that guilt over sexual indiscretions could be more damaging than the sexual habit itself. Chapter sources include memoirs and case notes to find the voices of the patients, along with medical texts and fiction to get a sense of the broader popular and medical contexts of the issues.