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    Radicalism, rational dissent, and reform : the Platonised interpretation of psychological androgyny and the unsexed mind in England in the Romantic era

    Russell, Victoria Fleur (2019) Radicalism, rational dissent, and reform : the Platonised interpretation of psychological androgyny and the unsexed mind in England in the Romantic era. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This thesis investigates the Platonised concept of psychological androgyny that emerged on the radical margins of Rational Dissent in England between the 1790s and the 1840s. A legacy largely of the socio-political and religious impediments experienced by Rational Dissenters in particular and an offshoot of natural rights theorising, belief in the unsexed mind at this time appears more prevalent amongst radicals in England than elsewhere in Britain. Studied largely by scholars of Romanticism as an aesthetic concept associated with male Romantics, the influence of the unsexed mind as a notion of psycho-sexual equality in English radical discourse remains largely neglected in the historiography. Far from a misogynistic concept concerned with male power and the appropriation of the feminine, closer analysis of the broader socio-political ideas not only of Romantic poets but of non-Romantic associates - journalists, physicians, educationalists, ministers and scientists - reveals a more egalitarian ethos, inspired by a revival of ideas from a resurgent Platonism and in particular by Plato‘s dialogue on love and friendship, the Symposium. A revolution of the human mind was sought through critical reforms to the two great and largely private bastions of patriarchal control, education and marriage. Focusing on androgyny reveals a largely overlooked form of heterodox radicalism on the margins of Rational Dissent, supportive of psycho-sexual equality and distinct and increasingly isolated from more conventional forms of radicalism, concerned largely with public issues of religious freedom, parliamentary reform and universal (male) suffrage. Revealed also, is the important, yet subtle, distinction between a Platonised and egalitarian interpretation of androgyny, influenced by German-led advances in biblical exegesis as well as the natural and human sciences, and a more patriarchal Judeo-Christian and Neoplatonic interpretation of the androgynous union of sexual opposites, enshrined in the conservative doctrine of separate spheres and endorsed increasingly from the 1830s onwards by the generality of society.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2021 16:06
    Last Modified: 02 Jul 2021 05:52
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/44948

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