Le magnétisme animal en mouvement. Reconfigurations and Circulations, 1776-1848

Le magnétisme animal en mouvement. Reconfigurations and Circulations, 1776-1848

David Armando, Bruno Belhoste, Jean-Luc Chappey, Claire Gantet, Markus Meumann, Olaf Simons
Université de Fribourg/Universität Freiburg (Schweiz)
Findet statt
Vom - Bis
20.10.2022 - 21.10.2022
Claire Gantet, Geschichte, Universität Fribourg/Freiburg (Schweiz)

The European, and later global, circulation of theories and practices of animal magnetism, which covers a large part of the ‘long 19th century’, is a phenomenon that is significant but little studied in its complexity. The processes of circulation, transfer and hybridization of knowledges and practices between the late 18th and the mid-19th century are the focus of this international conference.

Le magnétisme animal en mouvement. Reconfigurations and Circulations, 1776-1848

The European, and later global, circulation of theories and practices of animal magnetism, which covers a large part of the ‘long 19th century’, is a phenomenon that is significant but little studied in its complexity. The theory of the universal fluid and the magnetic therapies developed by Franz Anton Mesmer in Vienna flourished in Paris, where he moved at the end of 1778. Around 1784, they spread not only all over France, but also to the colonies, to Malta with the network of Harmony societies, and throughout Europe following the trajectories of learned, Masonic, mystical and esoteric societies, and of artistic and musical creation. The texts of the disputes to which they gave rise to were read, translated, commented on and re-elaborated throughout Europe and beyond. While the presence of the “traces” of magnetism in all times and in all peoples became a topos in the writings of its supporters and opponents, the mesmeric fluid became a term capable of bringing together distant worlds, from Chinese culture in Jesuit correspondence to Haitian voodoo or, later, Indian faquirs. This phenomenon of diffusion continued and was extended, particularly after the Revolution, in a double dynamic of claimed continuity with Mesmer’s discoveries, and of re-elaboration in the direction of the practices of somnambulism and hypnosis. It is in this form that animal magnetism, with its ambiguous status, suspended between science and belief, between physical and moral knowledge, makes its contribution to the development of Romantic culture, to philosophical medicine and German Naturphilosophie, as well as to the French and English novel. Its effects are exhibited in clinics and theatres, successively constitute the ground for the global affirmation of spiritualism and, at the end of the century, a source of inspiration for psychoanalysis. The very condemnations by the scientific academies, particularly in France, and, in a religious context, by the Court of Rome, contributed to this reconfiguration, giving the debate on magnetism an international circulation. In these perspectives, the study of magnetism makes it possible to revisit the history of disciplinary boundaries (or encyclopaedisms), the analysis of the political uses of knowledge and the forms and methods of popularisation at work between the 18th and 19th centuries.

This phenomenon of interweaving and circulation, which is extensive, complex and multi-layered, deserves to be studied from different sources, perspectives and disciplinary approaches. Animal magnetism itself offers a theory of circulation: in elaborating his conception of the universal fluid, Mesmer founds on it his own vision of the cosmos and of man, drawing attention to circulatory phenomena that crossed different fields of knowledge, from physics to astronomy, from physiology to politics, from economics to literature. This is one aspect  that of symbolic representations  under which the evolution of mesmerism dialogues with the theme of circulation during the 19th century. At the same time, this evolution is reflected and manifested in a great variety of practices: therapeutic practices first, but also social, political, religious, literary and artistic ones. The question of practices forcefully raises the issue of the heterogeneity of the actors and institutions involved in the often controversial debates on magnetism. This presence of magnetism in many fields justifies the attacks and the multiform oppositions that it arouses and which participate in the complex dynamics at work in the political, intellectual and cultural spaces between the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a longer-term perspective in which the study of animal magnetism lends itself to an understanding of the global reconfiguration of knowledge and techniques in the decades between the rise of the Atlantic revolutions and those of 1848.


Thursday 20 October

Salle Mis 11 – 2.102
Introduction : Anita Thomas, Claire Gantet, David Armando 9h00-9h30

Usages et enjeux thérapeutiques (président : Bruno Belhoste)

François Zanetti (Université Paris VII) : Le magnétisme animal au prisme de la médecine des eaux (acteurs, lieux, pratiques) 9h30-9h55

Yvonne Wübben (Ruhr-Universität Bochum): Mesmerism and Madness: Narrative techniques in psychiatric and literary cases 9h55-10h20

Discussion 10h20-10h40, Pause 10h40-11h

Samuel Macaigne (EPHE, Paris) : Le magnétisme animal, entre thérapeutique et prière : le cas de Guillaume-Pascal Billot, 11h-11h25

Kaat Wils (KU Leuven) : Transnational encounters in the history of therapeutic magnetism in Belgium, 1830-1860 11h25-11h50

Discussion 11h50-12h30

Cercles, réseaux, circulations (président : Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire)
Salle Mis 04 – 4112 (Salle Jäggi)

Markus Meumann, Olaf Simons (Forschungszentrum Gotha der Universität Erfurt) : J. J. C. Bode’s Mesmeristic Library, 14h-14h25

Anne Jeanson (EPHE, Paris) : Le réseau international du Journal du magnétisme, 1845-1861, 14h25-14h50

Kapil Raj (EHESS, Paris) : When Scottish Medicine Meets Indian Magic: Dr James Esdaile’s Mesmeric Surgery and Hospital in Mid-19th Century Bengal 14h50-15h15
Discussion 15h15-15h35, Pause 15h35-16h30

Magnétisme et littérature (présidente : Jacqueline Carroy)

Francesca Pagani (Università di Bergamo) : « La science des fluides impondérables ». L’imaginaire littéraire du magnétisme de Révéroni à Balzac 16h30-16h55

Jürgen Barkhoff (Trinity College Dublin), Gazes, Attractions and the Law of Gentleness. Mesmerism in Adalbert Stifter’s Brigitta 16h55-17h20

Emily Ogden (University of Virginia), Magnetic style in the work of Edgar Allan Poe 17h20-17h45
Discussion 17h45-18h15

Friday 21 October

Salle Mis 11 – 2.102
Usages et enjeux politiques et sociaux (président : Jean-Luc Chappey)

Mélanie Traversier (Université Lille III) : Dans le salon des crises […] j’ai vu se pâmer des Marquises, aux doux sons de l’harmonica ». Réflexions sur la diffusion de l’harmonica de verre à l’épreuve du mesmérisme, 9h-9h25

Olivier Ritz (Université Paris VII), Les origines magnétiques de la Révolution française 9h25-9h50

Francisco Javier Ramón Solans (Universidad Zaragoza) : The introduction of animal magnetism in Spain 1808-1848 9h50-10h15

Discussion 10h15-10h35, Pause 10h35-10h50

Andrea Ceci (Università di Pisa/EPHE, Paris) : Magnétisme animal et socialisme utopique : circulations et réinterprétations le long d’une frontière poreuse 10h50-11h15

Nicole Edelman (Université Paris Nanterre) : Le mesmérisme a-t-il modifié le rapport entre les hommes et les femmes ? 11h15-11h40

Discussion 11h40-12h30

Redistribution des savoirs (président : David Armando)

Chloé Conickx (Universiteit Gent) : A crisis of language: the re-configuration of animal magnetism in the 1784 debate 14h-14h25

Bastiaan van Rijn (Universität Bern) : Between Science and Religion: Proving the Afterlife through Animal Magnetism 14h25-14h50

Discussion 14h50-15h05

Discussion générale et conclusions, 15h05-16h00


Claire Gantet

Veröffentlicht am
Weitere Informationen
Land Veranstaltung
Sprach(en) der Veranstaltung
Englisch, Französisch
Sprache der Ankündigung