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    The museum as 'Dream Space': Psychology and aesthetic response in George Eliot’s Middlemarch

    Mills, Victoria (2011) The museum as 'Dream Space': Psychology and aesthetic response in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 12 , ISSN 1755-1560.

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    This essay explores the relationship between aesthetics and psychology through the idea of the museum as a ‘dream space’ in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. It begins with a discussion of Charles Dickens’s Amy Dorrit and Hilda in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun, two women who, like Dorothea Brooke, dream their way around Italian museums and the fragment-rich spaces of Rome. Pregnant moments of female subjectivity take place in museum spaces characterised by their oneiric qualities. Such fictional depictions extend Sheldon Annis’s notion of the museum as ‘dream space’, taking account of a variety of sleep states associated with the museum that include mesmeric trance and double consciousness. Middlemarch, in particular, draws on contemporary psychological accounts of such phenomena developed by John Addington Symonds, Enaeas Sweetland Dallas and Frances Power Cobbe. Eliot’s depiction of Dorothea’s responses to the museum of Rome engages with theories of consciousness and debates about the nature of spontaneous, individual will. In Middlemarch the creative potential of the unconscious mind is explored through the idea of the museum as a dream space.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): optical, trance, nightmare, visuality, dream space, The Marble Faun, Little Dorrit, double consciousness, unconscious, cognitive, will, dream, museum, Middlemarch, affective, aesthetics, mesmerism, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, psychology
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for
    Depositing User: Vicky Mills
    Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2020 14:23
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:49


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