Performing the Resurrection: James Graham and the Multiplication of the Real

Author: Otto, Peter

Source: Cultural and Social History, 1 September 2006, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 325-340(16)

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Abstract:

In contrast to recent work on the charlatan James Graham which locates him in relation to medical history, this paper focuses on his various performances, the theatrical spaces he constructed (or imagined) for them, and the 'other' realities that these spaces and performances were designed to conjure. It argues that in the unprecedented commercial and cosmopolitan milieu of late eighteenth-century London, the charlatan emerges as the uncanny double (rather than straight-forward antagonist) of the scientist and the artist, from which both must struggle to distinguish themselves. Both romantic poet and enlightenment scientist are concerned to manage the relation problematized in a culture of simulation, between first-order and second-order realities. The charlatan is the uncanny double of both of these projects because he raises the possibility that each attempt to mediate between these realms will be revealed as one more simulation, and that artist, scientist, and charlatan will be found to be the 'guardian saints' of a culture shaped to a single identity by lawless difference.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1191/1478003806cs067oa

Affiliations: English Department, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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