Although Victorian psychology has been the subject of much recent scholarship, Elizabeth Gaskell's work has not been considered in relation to nineteenth-century theories of mind. In this thesis, I argue that Gaskell's final novel, Wives and Daughters, deals with associationism, an early branch of psychology that played a key role in public debates over cognition that took place throughout the century. Gaskell was exposed to associationism through her Unitarian faith, and Unitarian educators in particular articulated associationist principles in their writings about cognitive development. Gaskell was preoccupied with a similar model of learning throughout her fiction, and I read Wives and Daughters as a novel that redefines education in associationist terms, presenting the protagonist Molly Gibson's education not as a matter of formal schooling but as a matter of experiential and psychological growth.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Dickson, Lori Ann, "The culture of habits and dispositions: Associationist Psychology and Unitarian Education in Gaskell's Wives and Daughters" (2009). All Theses and Dissertations. 1807.
Elizabeth Gaskell, psychology, associationism, Unitarianism, education