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Assistant Professor Publishes Book on the Soul

Posted on October 30, 2013.

HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 30, 2013 – Dr. Laura Linker, assistant professor of English at High Point University, recently published her second book, “Lucretian Thought in Late Stuart England: Debates about the Nature of the Soul” (Palgrave Macmillan).

In her book, Linker investigates writers’ representations of the soul and how it shaped English literature. The book considers the way English writers drew on the Roman Epicurean philosopher, Lucretius, to enter debates about the soul started by Descartes and other continental philosophers, physicians, and anatomists theorizing about a material soul.

“Characters in Restoration literature illustrate the medical theory that a material soul affects nerves and muscles, causing displays of excessive passion or madness,” explains Linker. “We have inherited gender stereotypes partially derived from early modern medical theories on hysteria informing Renaissance and late Stuart models of the soul. These theories influenced the earliest English novelists and later novels of sensibility and courtship novels, including those by Jane Austen, over a century later.”

Linker plans to use the book in her spring English course on “Eighteenth-Century British Literature” by having students create a digital archive of cultural artifacts found in early texts relating to ideas in the book.
“It’s important for our students to engage complex ideas and language in meaningful ways alongside new technologies,” explains Linker. “It’s part of the larger vision behind the liberal arts education model, which increasingly attracts employers to English and other humanities majors, able to represent complicated, creative ideas in innovate ways.”

The book can be purchased on Amazon.com.

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