Research Stream


Mark Neuendorf

Mark Neuendorf graduated with a PhD from The University of Adelaide in 2018, after completing his research on the topic 'A "Plea for Humanity"? Emotions and the Makings of Lunacy Reform in Britain c.1770–1820' under the supervision of Claire Walker, and with support from a 'Top-Up' scholarship from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

This project investigates the ways that collective emotions informed the diagnosis and treatment of madness and irrationality in Britain in the long eighteenth century. It explores the shifting cultural meanings of madness over this period, to assess how changes to the structure of civil society redefined the bounds of normativity and irrationality; informed the representations of madness in the public and literary spheres; influenced the medical definitions of mental illness; and shaped the relationship between patients and the medical professionals treating them.

Of particular interest is the influence of the eighteenth-century’s 'culture of sensibility' on the treatment of the mentally ill. Conceived as a unifying bond of fellow feeling and moral virtue, 'sensibility' ushered in a period of intense emotional expression and sentimentality, in which outward displays of sympathy and emotional sensitivity were idealised as desirable social performances. This study investigates what effect this culture of intense emotionality had on the treatment of the mad in Georgian Britain, and how philosophical theories of sympathy and sensibility shaped medical diagnoses and clinical ethics. Through an exploration of the public discourse about madness and irrationality, literary representations of mental derangement, and the medical case files and private correspondence of individual practitioners, the emotional discourses surrounding mental illness will be reinterpreted, to determine the various ways that the emotional standards of the community influenced a change in the practices of medical practitioners in the period, and the corpus of medical knowledge more broadly.



Madness in England in the “Age of Sensibility"

Selected Publications

Neuendorf, M. 'Psychiatry's "Others"? Rethinking the Professional Self-Fashioning of British Mental Nurses c.1900–1920', Medical History [forthcoming].

Selected Presentations

Symposium Paper:  ‘Matters of Taste? Emotions, Aesthetics and the Romantic-era Sermon’, ‘Religion and Emotion in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, c.1100–1800’ symposium, The University of Adelaide, 23 November 2018.

Conference Panel Paper: ‘Moving the Heart: Madness and the Sympathetic Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Britain’, 11th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS) ‘Mobility and Exchange’, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, 7‒10 February 2017.

Conference Panel Paper: ‘A “Forcible Appeal to Humanity”: Sympathising with the Insane in the Romantic Age’, 4th Biennial Conference, Romantic Studies Association of Australasia, Massey University / Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, 16–18 February 2017.

Conference Panel Paper: ‘Emotions, Print Culture and the Makings of British Psychiatry’, 15th Biennial Conference, Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, 11–14 July 2017.


Neuendorf, Mark. Curran Fellowship Grant, Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, USD5,000 for project ‘Emotions, Print Culture and the Makings of British Psychiatry’, 2017–2018. Awarded: 4 February 2017.