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Sex in Mind

The Gendered Brain in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Mental Sciences

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Rachel Malane

Sex in Mind: The Gendered Brain in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Mental Sciences explores the role of the sexed brain in Victorian science and literature, showing the increasing nineteenth-century fixation on abnormal brain function and the cultural desire to create mental categories based on gender. In a discussion of neurology, psychology, and other mental sciences, Rachel Malane examines how the rational male mind and the emotional female mind became a culturally accepted idea that was substantiated by scientists and how the Victorian preoccupation with the sexed mind infiltrated contemporary literature. Focusing on the novels of Charlotte Brontë, Wilkie Collins, and Thomas Hardy, Malane analyzes how these narratives of love, insanity, and tragedy were in dynamic conversation with the prevailing views about the brain. Sex in Mind offers an intriguing look at the nineteenth-century understanding of the gendered mind – such as the belief that the reproductive organs were connected to the brain – and it shows how Victorian writers both incorporated and dissected the idea that men and women have separate minds.