Deformities of nature: sleepwalking and non-conscious states of mind in late eighteenth-century Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines the didactic appropriation of sleepwalking reports in late eighteenth-century Britain in pedagogical treatises, conduct books, and children's literature. It examines how and why reports of sleepwalkers were used to edify young minds and in so doing traces a critical shift in understandings of sleepwalkers, which were transformed from preternatural wonders to deformities of nature that exemplified the dangerous consequences of irrational, unregulated bodies and minds. This new role was predicated on new medical and philosophical understandings of sleepwalking and on the prioritisation of developmental psychology by pedagogues and philosophers.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the History of Ideas
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Related information


View all