Theaters of Madness (Paperback)
Insane Asylums and Nineteenth-Century American Culture
University of Chicago Press, 9780226709642, 237pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
About the Author
Praise For Theaters of Madness: Insane Asylums and Nineteenth-Century American Culture…
“Benjamin Reiss has in important and novel ways successfully linked the history of the mental hospital to crucial developments in American culture. No one before has made so many fascinating connections between the idea and practice of the asylum and the intellectual production of the antebellum era. Both students of asylums and students of culture will find Theaters of Madness provocative and illuminating.”—David J. Rothman, Columbia University
-David J. Rothman, Columbia University
“Theaters of Madness captures the ‘texture of a time’ and persuasively chronicles the centrality of insanity to the era’s key public debates about democracy, freedom and enslavement, and modernization. In Benjamin Reiss’s hands, the asylum becomes both an arena for debating cultural assumptions and beliefs and an institution that itself changes the social order. This is a deeply engaging study of a fascinating topic.”—Priscilla Wald, Duke University
-Priscilla Wald, Duke University
"Engaging and thoughtful, Theaters of Madness captures the ''texture of a time unlike our own'' when ''the treatment of mental illness was central to national debates about democracy, freedom, and modernity.''"
"Reiss depicts cultural life in the 19th-century asylum and asylum life in 19-century literature in his stunningly well-composed Theaters of Madness."
"Theaters of Madness is a fascinating read for its range of material, depth of analysis, and its theoretical clarity. . . . Reiss shows that to understand madness we need much more than the conceptual tools of psychiatry and, for that matter, of its more reactionary opponents."