A Fire in Her Mind: Medicine, Gender Identity, and Strindberg's "Miss Julie"

As a historian of science and medicine, I am interested in the social and political context that informs fact-based narratives; this collaboration with Jonathan Cole gives me the opportunity to resume a project on the gendered discussion of nervous disease in the late nineteenth century, and to explore some new ground in the influence of contemporary medical and scientific discussions on Strindberg’s work.

We will closely read a range of works in an exploration of the larger cultural framework for Strindberg’s psychological issues and misogyny. Specific texts might include Freud and Darwin on instinct and social behavior in animals; psychologists like Havelock Ellis on ‘sexual inversion’ and modern gender identity; physicians like S. Weir Mitchell on women’s sexual and moral nature and the effect of education on their physical bodies, psychological health, and intellectual and domestic capacity; and more recent secondary works on shifting gender roles and the medicalization of social behaviors.  Students interested on collaborating with me might work on research papers of their own, develop a creative product related to any of the topics we explore in our readings, or connect to the collaborators working more closely on the performance piece.

Willamette University

Liberal Arts Research Collaborative

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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