'Invisible Agents': The American Gothic and the Miasmatic Imagination
This article argues that American medicine's preoccupation with atmospheric etiology shaped the American Gothic as it was instantiated by Charles Brockden Brown and developed by Edgar Allan Poe. Antebellum medical discourse, I suggest, worked in service of a paranoiac hypervigilance, or what I call the 'miasmatic imagination'. Read in conversation with Gothic fiction, miasma theory offers a way of conceptualizing "atmosphere"as both etiological and rhetorical: a medium for the transmission of disease and a literary technique for the transmission of meaning.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Michigan
Publication date: May 1, 2015
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