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Gender ARC Colloquium: Engaging Emotion

Gender ARC Colloquium: Engaging Emotion

This is a workshop format that is intended to stimulate discussion and debate amongst those for whom emotion is a research theme. All are welcome – please contact in advance.
Date: Thursday April 27th 2017, 9am-1pm
Guest Speaker: Dr. Willemijn Ruberg, Utrecht University
Venue: Graduate Attributes Hub

9.15: Welcome: Dr Breda Gray
9.30-10: Dr Sinead McDermott, UL, ‘Shame and Anger in Michele Roberts’s Daughters of the House’
10.00-11.30: Dr Maggie O’Neill, UL, ‘The Politics of Emotion in Irish Women’s Popular Fiction’
10.30-11: Coffee
11.00-12: Five Minute Presentations & Group Discussion
12.00-1: Dr Willemijn Ruberg, Utrecht University, ‘Hysteria in the Courtroom: Gender, Emotion and Dutch Forensic Psychiatrists Around 1900’

‘Hysteria in the Courtroom: Gender, Emotion and Dutch Forensic Psychiatrists Around 1900’

Abstract: Although many scholars have addressed the fascinating phenomenon of hysteria, their analyses remain mostly limited to the study of medical or cultural discourse. This paper, in contrast, will focus on how hysteria was constituted in (legal) practice. Around 1900, increasingly psychiatrists were called in as expert witnesses in cases of murder and sexual assault. Surprisingly, these psychiatrists often diagnosed both men and women as hysterics. Male and female perpetrators received the label of hysteric as part of the expert investigation into insanity and unaccountability. But female victims, as well, were often labelled lying hysterics in cases of sexual assault. This paper will apply practice theory (or praxiography) to the concept of hysteria, by looking at the techniques that psychiatrists used to examine the minds of perpetrators and victims. It will argue that a focus on the practices of making hysteria will give us new insights into the relationship between gender and emotion.

Bio: Dr Willemijn Ruberg is Associate Professor lecturing in cultural history at Utrecht University. She completed her PhD thesis at Leiden University in 2005. Her thesis discussed the epistolary culture of the Dutch elite in 1770-1850 and was published in 2005. From 2005-2008 she worked as a lecturer in history and women's studies at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Her research interests include: autobiographical writing, gender, sexuality, childhood, emotions and the body in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as cultural theory. Her current research project addresses Dutch forensic medicine, the body and expertise in 1800-1920.

Dr Willemijn Ruberg