Thursday, July 10, 2008
Ward on The Rochester Wives, and the discourse of madness
Posted by Mary L. Dudziak
Ian Ward, University of Newcastle upon Tyne - Faculty of Law, has a new article, The Rochester Wives. It appears in the journal Law and Humanities. Here's the abstract: During much of the nineteenth century England was gripped by periodic 'lunacy scares'. In large part, these scares addressed a more particular concern regarding 'wrongful confinement'. There was a narrower jurisprudential concern here; one which focused on the relative lack of legal regulation in such circumstances. As the century progressed the demand for reform of this regulatory provision grew ever louder. There was also a rather larger, essentially cultural, concern; which framed the evolving shape of a distinctive 'discourse' of madness. The purpose of this article is to examine these two concerns, and perhaps most importantly their relation. It will do so moreover through a particular investigation of the Rochester 'case'; as it found literary expression in the novels of Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys.