A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion
A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion

A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion

by Fay Bound Alberti


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Despite 21st-century fears of an 'epidemic' of loneliness, its history has been sorely neglected. A Biography of Loneliness offers a radically new interpretation of loneliness as an emotional language and experience. Using letters and diaries, philosophical tracts, political discussions, and medical literature from the eighteenth century to the present, historian of the emotions Fay Bound Alberti argues that loneliness is not an ahistorical, universal phenomenon. It is, in fact, a modern emotion: before 1800, its language did not exist. And where loneliness is identified, it is not always bad, but a complex emotional state that differs according to class, gender, ethnicity and experience.

Looking at informative case studies such as Sylvia Plath, Queen Victoria, and Virginia Woolf, A Biography of Loneliness charts the emergence of loneliness as a modern and embodied emotional state.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198811343
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/12/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 273,337
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Dr Fay Bound Alberti is a Reader in History and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the University of York. She is a TED speaker and has published widely on medicine, the body, gender and emotion in books and scholarly articles as well as in the media. She has taught at universities around the UK including UCL, Lancaster, Manchester, and York.

Table of Contents

Preface: No (Wo)man is an island
Introduction: Loneliness as a 'modern epidemic'
1. When 'oneliness' became loneliness: the birth of a modern emotion
2. A 'disease of the blood'? The chronic loneliness of Sylvia Plath
3. Loneliness and lack: romantic love, from Wuthering Heights to Twilight
4. Widowhood and loss: from Thomas Turner to the Widow of Windsor
5. Instaglum? Social media and the making of online community
6. A 'ticking timebomb'? Rethinking loneliness in old age
7. Roofless and rootless: no place to call 'home'
8. Feeding the hunger. Materiality and the neglected lonely body
9. Lonely clouds and empty vessels. When loneliness is a gift
Conclusion: reframing loneliness in a neoliberal age
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