Our fifth installment of the P&S CRN Digital Speaker Series will feature Chase Burton and his talk, "The Machinery of Demons: Crime and the Uncanny Mind in the Nineteenth Century" on Wednesday, May 16 at 12:30 EST. We will send out a link to the talk a little before the talk, which will stream live on YouTube. We hope you all can make it!
Punishment & Society CRN Digital Speaker Series
Wednesday, May 16 at 12:30 EST
(Instructions for watching the talk online forthcoming)
Chase Burton, UC Berkeley
The Machinery of Demons: Crime and the Uncanny Mind in the Nineteenth Century
This talk shares an excerpt from my dissertation project on American criminology in the nineteenth century and the ways in early proto-scientific writing about crime drew on literary forms and images for coherence. I will try to sketch out a history of obsession, which emerged in the early nineteenth century as a way of talking about the uncanny irrational: the pieces of superstition, fear and lack of control that should have been conquered by Enlightenment rationality, but constantly re-emerged. Obsession provided a frame for the American reinterpretation and extension of monomania theory, which then fractured and was rearticulated into single issue diagnoses (pyromania, kleptomania) that in turn became indicators of non-hereditary degeneracy in the first prominent US eugenic theories of criminology advanced by W. Duncan McKim and D. A. Gorton. The goal is thus both to draw attention to often-overlooked yet influential figures in the intellectual history of American criminology, and to show how early twentieth century eugenic theory was built on references to and extensions of Gothic tropes and imagery.
Sent on behalf of the P&S Digital Speaker Series Committee
(Sarah Lageson, Rose Ricciardelli, and Ashley Rubin)
If you would like to present your work through the speaker series or join the organizing committee, please email us!