|dc.description.abstract||During the second half of the nineteenth century in both America and Britain, psychical phenomena such as mesmeric trances, spirit possession, and double consciousness were prominent in the case studies of physicians and psychologists and in fictional literary texts. Alternate consciousness was most often a side effect of hysteria, which Victorian physicians and authors associated with women. A number of case studies from this time period, however, suggest that double consciousness was not uncommon in men, and several novels depict such cases. For fictional male characters, the split most often organizes itself around issues of success and failure in the masculine world of social and economic achievement; failure in the public sphere could cause private distress. Mental disease held connotations of weakness and effeminacy, but in these novels double consciousness allows middle-class men to imaginatively separate private mental disease from public hegemonic masculinity. Through double consciousness, Victorian authors represent the tensions between private and public selves and the psychological division that results when a character’s masculinity is inadequate to social norms.
In this dissertation, I examine the intersection between Victorian standards of masculinity, the psychological phenomenon of double consciousness, and narrative representations of consciousness in fictional texts by Herman Melville, George Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, and W.E.B. DuBois. Double consciousness, hysteria, neurasthenia, and hypochondriasis were all terms used by the medical community, often synonymously, to describe mental diseases, but double consciousness was most easily adopted by authors of fiction because of its dual physiological and metaphorical connotations. In crafting characters who experience double consciousness, these authors not only represent a contemporary cultural phenomenon, but also experiment with unique methods of representing consciousness, methods that go beyond linear depictions of thought. Through their varied representations of consciousness, these authors heralded the arrival of literary modernism.||