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Stories of violence, danger, and men out of control
Amy Milne-Smith

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.

in Out of his mind
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The asylum
Amy Milne-Smith

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.

in Out of his mind
Home care, doctors' care, and travellers
Amy Milne-Smith

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.

in Out of his mind
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Masculinity and mental illness in Victorian Britain
Author: Amy Milne-Smith

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.

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Failures of morality and the will
Amy Milne-Smith

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.

in Out of his mind
Emma Gleadhill

Chapter 9 provides an in-depth analysis of the material development of a powerful friendship between Anglo-Irish traveller Martha Wilmot and Princess Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova. As head of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekaterina was one of the first European women to hold public office. In 1803, Ekaterina welcomed twenty-eight-year-old Martha Wilmot to her rural estate near Moscow. Exiled from court and finding herself alone and forgotten, Ekaterina hoped that Martha, the niece of her old travelling companion Katherine Hamilton, would be a source of companionship. Martha was given paintings, books, precious stones, sables, shawls and keepsakes in the form of jewellery, miniatures and personal accoutrements connected with significant people and events from Ekaterina’s life. Martha returned home with these objects and others that captured something of her experience of Russian culture, including traditional dresses and transcripts of Russian songs and folklore. It is argued that, on one level, Ekaterina’s keepsakes reduced Martha’s agency to the level of a loyal subject, on another the stories they told of Russia’s female leaders and herself were empowering. The objects would lead Martha to spread abroad a vivid picture of Catherine the Great, Ekaterina and Russian folk culture. By teasing out the complexities of one woman’s material sentimentalisation of a friendship, this chapter reveals the keepsake as a powerful narrative instrument that women travellers could use to defy their inferior economic, social, cultural and political value in Britain during this period.

in Taking travel home
Emma Gleadhill

Chapter 2 shows how elite women feminised elements of the Grand Tour’s practices to better suit the female experience during the late eighteenth century. The chapter draws attention to some of the objects that women bought, found or created on their Grand Tours and the complex meanings they attached to them to prove the worth of their travel experiences to both themselves and to others. It is argued that the evidence suggests that there were marked gender differences in attitudes between male and female Grand Tourists. Women journals and letters home consistently reveal an enjoyment of the social practice of shopping as a pastime central to their travel experiences and a more mindful and emotional engagement with the small objects they bought or collected during their travels.

in Taking travel home
Emma Gleadhill

Chapter 8 looks at women’s engagement in social politics by exploring Anglo-Irish traveller Katherine Wilmot and Lady Elizabeth Holland’s engagement with Napoleon through keepsakes. By marketing himself through visual merchandise, Napoleon came to rely on genteel women’s consumer decisions during his reign. Women used Napoleonic keepsakes to show their political affiliation. A rejection of such keepsakes showed the opposite. In this chapter we see that while Katherine and Elizabeth both had similarly disappointing first impressions of Napoleon, the former rejected his keepsakes to condemn him. Conversely, the latter used them to project an image of an extraordinary friendship with the Emperor. It is argued that it is through recognising the legitimacy of these personal avenues for political expression and examining the cultural and social context in which they operated that we can better understand the complexities of eighteenth-century women’s involvement in social politics.

in Taking travel home
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The souvenir culture of British women tourists, 1750–1830
Author: Emma Gleadhill

Taking Travel Home provides a cultural history of the travel souvenir. It situates the souvenir at the crossroads of competing ideas of what travel stood for which were fought out amongst a rapidly growing constituency of British tourists between 1750 and 1830. Drawing from the theory of the souvenir as a nostalgic narrative instrument, the book uncovers how elite women tourists developed a souvenir culture around the texts and objects they brought home to realise their social, intellectual and political ambitions in the arenas of connoisseurship, science and friendship. Key characters include forty-three-year-old honeymooner Hester Piozzi; thirty-one-year-old Grand Tourist Anna Miller; Dorothy Richardson, who travelled in England from the ages of twelve to fifty-two; and the Wilmot sisters who went to Russia in their late twenties. The supreme tourist of the book, Lady Elizabeth Holland, travelled to many locations, including Paris, where she met Napoleon, and Spain during the Peninsular War. This book is concerned with the whole gamut of objects these women and others collected, from fans depicting ‘the ruins of Rome for a sequin apiece’ and the Pope’s ‘bless’d beads’, to materials from Vesuvius and pieces of Stonehenge. Ultimately, the book argues that souvenirs are representative of female agency during this period. For elite women, revelling in the independence and identity formation of travel, but hampered by polite models of femininity and reliant on their menfolk, the creation of souvenirs provided a socially acceptable way to prove their contentious claims to the authority of the travelling subject.

Lynsey Black

Clemency for women because they were women was hardly unique to Ireland; however, it was notably dominant as a rationale for reprieve in the decades post-independence. This chapter explores the extension of clemency to condemned women in Ireland, engaging with concepts of chivalry and paternalism and exploring the double-edged sword of leniency. The ‘mercy by gender’ position in Ireland in these decades speaks to a culture of chivalry within criminal justice, yet this chivalry was born of deeply patriarchal gender relations which ensured an inferior position for women and the denial of rights of citizenship. Much of the ideology identified in clemency decisions reflects paternalism, an arrangement of power which holds a group or individual to be inferior in rationality. This was a deeply embedded and gendered position in postcolonial Ireland. Punitiveness works to ‘Other’ and entrench social differences for some groups. For women condemned to death in Ireland, in contrast, the leniency they experienced worked to further ‘Other’ them. This found its corollary in their post-reprieve experiences. Just as paternalism saved many from the gallows, it condemned others to lives of confinement.

in Gender and punishment in Ireland