Abstract

In Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845), the American feminist Margaret Fuller promoted the "magnetic" element of the woman as a source of liberation and empowerment. During the time that she was composing this work, animal magnetism, or mesmerism, was a popular form of medical treatment in America and Europe. Fuller suffered chronic pain from intense headaches and spinal curvature, and her letters and essays indicate that she found relief in magnetic treatments at a time when women were thought to be particularly susceptible to the mesmeric trance. Fuller's experiences with mesmerism not only provided a remedy for her physical ailments but also contributed to her theory of feminism. This essay examines mesmerism as a form of holistic healing for Fuller, tracing her journey from a woman encumbered by intense pain to a woman who celebrated her magnetic female body and the spiritual liberation it afforded.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6571
Print ISSN
0278-9671
Pages
pp. 298-324
Launched on MUSE
2007-06-13
Open Access
No
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