Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
The period following the end of the Civil War in America and extending to just after the turn of the century witnessed the emergence of an independent discipline of psychology as well as the emergence of a uniquely American literary tradition. Though these developments occurred independently and operated out of different traditions, they shared a common interest in the concept of "consciousness." The present study is a comparison of models of consciousness expressed in psychological and literary texts of two periods: The first period covers the emergence of literary realism and American philosophical psychology (1865-1885); the second period covers literary naturalism and the emergence of psychology as a science (1886-1910). Content analyses of selected passages revealed that psychologists portrayed consciousness as a unidimensional entity, divisible, in principle, into various "powers" or aspects of perceiving, thinking, reasoning, and the like. Novelists, in contrast, portrayed consciousness as a multi-dimensional, feeling-toned arena, indivisible and unclassifiable. However, both psychologists and novelists of the early period depicted a passive consciousness wholly contained within the experiencing subject; while in the later period consciousness was readily depicted as actively engaged in on-going interaction with the world. These developments are discussed within the context of the particular methodological commitments and traditions attending the nineteenth-century development of two American disciplines: the science of psychology and the American novel.
Webster, Sandra, "The rhetoric of realism: American psychology and American literature, 1860-1910" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations. 1797.