Books Features

Book Forum––Sabine Arnaud’s On Hysteria

This article is part of the following series:



Sabine Arnaud’s On Hysteria: The Invention of a Medical Category Between 1670 and 1820 focuses on the socio-medical category before its better-known (and more heavily studied) late nineteenth century instantiations, not to trace the prehistory of hysteria from the seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries, but in order to demonstrate how hysteria takes unexpected form during these earlier epochs. The following commentaries draw out the historical and literary qualities of Arnaud’s study beautifully, and demonstrate how far Arnaud’s insight that this malady was as dependent upon writing and narrative strategies as it was the status of medicine extends. The commentaries are followed by a reply from the author. We hope you enjoy.


Hysteria, Genre, and the Physician-Writer
Sean M. Quinlan
University of Idaho

The Topicality of Hysteria
Peter Cryle
Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland

What Does Novelty Really Mean? Thinking About Centuries and Disciplines
Caroline Warman
University of Oxford

Medicine, The Age of Sensibility, and Sociable Knowledge
Maria Semi
University of Turin

A Reply
Sabine Arnaud
Max Planck Institute für Wissenschaftsgeschichte