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Inventing the Addict

Drugs, Race, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century British and American Literature

Susan Zieger

Publication Year: 2008

The notion of addiction has always conjured first-person stories, often beginning with an insidious seduction, followed by compulsion and despair, culminating in recovery and tentative hope for the future. We are all familiar with this form of individual life arrative, Susan Zieger observes, but we know far less about its history. “Addict” was not an available identity until the end of the nineteenth century, when a modernizing medical establishment and burgeoning culture of consumption updated the figure of the sinful drunkard popularized by the temperance movement. In Inventing the Addict, Zieger tells the story of how the addict, a person uniquely torn between disease and desire, emerged from a variety of earlier figures such as drunkards, opium-eating scholars, vicious slave masters, dissipated New Women, and queer doctors. Drawing on a broad range of literary and cultural material, including canonical novels such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula, she traces the evolution of the concept of addiction through a series of recurrent metaphors: exile, self-enslavement, disease, and vampirism. She shows how addiction took on multiple meanings beyond its common association with intoxication or specific habit-forming substances—it was an abiding desire akin to both sexual attraction and commodity fetishism, a disease that strangely failed to meet the requirements of pathology, and the citizen’s ironic refusal to fulfill the promise of freedom. Nor was addiction an ideologically neutral idea. As Zieger demonstrates, it took form over time through specific, shifting intersections of gender, race, class, and sexuality, reflecting the role of social power in the construction of meaning.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x

Many people and institutions have enabled me—in the best sense of the word—to complete this book, and I am grateful to them all. They brought Generous grants and fellowships from the ACLS Fellowship Program and the Huntington Library provided the time and money to conduct the research for this book. Additionally, two Regents’ Faculty Development ...

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Introduction - Addiction and History

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pp. 1-30

Two curiously related stories tell of the power and the weakness of the will in modern Anglo-American culture. The first comes from the biography of George Harley (1829–1896), a Scottish researcher in physiology who orbited such luminaries in the development of modern medical science as François Magendie, Claude Bernard, Rudolf Virchow, and Justus ...


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Chapter 1 - Pioneers of Inner Space: Drug Autobiography and Manifest Destiny

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pp. 33-60

The reader, the thinker, the person who waits, the flâneur, are types of illuminati—just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. For the intellectual teenager, Poughkeepsie in the 1840s held few diver-­sions. How else to explain an adolescent Fitz Hugh Ludlow haunting his friend Anderson the apothecary’s shop, where rows of bottles offered “an ...

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Chapter 2 - “Mankind Has Been Drunk”: Race and Addiction in Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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pp. 61-97

Yes, in this nation there is a “middle passage” of slavery and darkness Could all the sighs of these captives be wafted on one breeze, it would be loud as thunder. Could all their tears be assembled, Within the context of the cultural history of addiction, “slavery” furnished a powerful metaphor expressing the body’s compulsive, habitual con-­...

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Chapter 3 - Impostors of Freedom: Hypodermic Morphine and the Labors of Passing in E. P. Roe’s Without a Home

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pp. 98-123

As I look back to 1842,—twenty-­seven years ago,—it seems almost a hideous dream; I can hardly realize my identity with the staggering, but the scars remain to testify the reality; yes, scars and marks never The “slavery of drink” metaphor long outlived its vehicle, chattel slavery. Once slavery had been outlawed in the U.S., its metaphorical uses became ...


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Chapter 4 - Needling Desires: Women, Morphinomania, and Self-Representation in Fin-de-Si

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pp. 127-154

And my arm was pricked. The drug ran through my veins. I felt the colour come into my cheeks, and instinctively I knew that a feverish sparkle was in my eyes. I had been haggard and my face drawn and bloodless, now a warmth and brilliance came to me, and the pain died, and then came sleep.When the governess Isabel Gordon recounts her introduction to the ...

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Chapter 5 - “Afflictions à la Oscar Wilde”: The Strange Case of Addiction and Sexuality in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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pp. 155-195

Remember, reader, that the great majority of our law-

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Chapter 6 - Un-Death and Bare Life: Addiction and Eugenics in Dracula and The Blood of the Vampire

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pp. 196-231

Narcotic intoxication, in which the euphoric suspension of the self is expiated by deathlike sleep, is one of the oldest social transactions mediating between self-

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Afterword - The Biopolitics of Drug Control

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pp. 247-256

Beginning around the time of Dracula and continuing into the twentieth century, addicts increasingly inhabit urban underworld zones of “bare life,” into which their seemingly predatory motives suck unsuspecting citizens. This anxiety structures the most common narrative context of addiction in the years 1900–1920, the seduction or rape of vulnerable ...


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pp. 243-293


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pp. 295-304

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761809
E-ISBN-10: 1613761805
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558496798
Print-ISBN-10: 1558496793

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 794701571
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Inventing the Addict

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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • English literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism
  • Addicts in literature.
  • Drug abuse in literature.
  • Alcoholism in literature.
  • Addicts -- History.
  • Drug abuse -- History.
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