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Credulity – A Cultural History of US Mesmerism | Chicago Scholarship Online
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Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism

Emily Ogden


This book offers a history of mesmerism, or animal magnetism, in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) United States. Imported from the plantations of the French Antilles by founder Charles Poyen, established in New England textile-factory cities, and practiced throughout the US, mesmerism was surprisingly central to American life and to such canonical figures as Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. It embraced a variety of phenomena, including somnambulism, mind control, spirit travel, and clairvoyance. Widely practiced f ... More

Keywords: mesmerism, animal magnetism, antebellum United States, enchantment, occult, spiritualism, secularization, agency, modernity, belief

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780226532165
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226532479.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Emily Ogden, author
University of Virginia