Nineteenth-Century Disability:  Cultures & Contexts

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  • Tags: Cognition

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Thomas Greene Wiggins, better known as “Blind Tom,” was an autistic savant with an encyclopedic memory. He is known for his mind-boggling ability to replicate music and other sounds after only one hearing. Wiggins was born into slavery in…

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One of the most well known nineteenth-century fictional representations of disability is that of Quasimodo, the deaf and disabled bell-ringer in Victor Hugo’s 1831 historical novel, Notre-Dame de Paris. The novel quickly became immensely popular,…

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“Under Chloroform,” an unsigned article on amputation written by surgeon Henry Thompson, was published in the first volume of the popular literary magazine, The Cornhill. At the time, Thompson, a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of…

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This article, which appeared in Charles Dickens's publication All The Year Round in 1864, describes a journalist's visit to the Earlswood Asylum, the first institution for the care of the cognitively disabled in England. It was founded by J Langdon…
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