Memory's Bonds

Sarah Winter

in The Pleasures of Memory

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233526
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241132 | DOI:
Memory's Bonds

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This chapter provides a cultural and intellectual history of the popular associationism that appears in Victorian literary criticism as well as psychological and pedagogical writings. Elucidating a sustained theoretical interest in the parallel, freely ranging functioning of memory, thinking, and imagination, the chapter surveys the history of associationist conceptions of mind, memory, and reading from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries in English and Scottish Enlightenment moral philosophy and pedagogical theory. Focusing on the writings of Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, and David Hartley, the chapter illuminates a strong tradition of interest in memory as a reliable virtual medium linking mind and world and supporting personal identity. Utilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and James Mill also employed associationist theory to explain the interlocking theoretical and functional coherence among processes of associative memory, education and socialization, and social and political reform.

Keywords: associationism; Enlightenment psychology; mnemonics; John Locke; David Hume; David Hartley; William Wordsworth; syllabic reading pedagogy; serial memory; political reform

Chapter.  19652 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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