An internalist perspective on the mind stresses those aspects that are inner, introspective, private, solitary, individual, psychological, mysterious, and detached. An externalist perspective stresses those aspects that are outer, active, public, social, behavioral, evident, embodied, and engaged. This article uses the term social mind to describe those aspects of the whole mind that are revealed through the externalist perspective. It applies the concept of a social mind to descriptions of crowd behavior in Walter Scott's Heart of Midlothian, Thomas Macaulay's History of England, and Charles Dickens's Barnaby Rudge. In particular, it examines the behavior of crowds as a whole, individuals (especially leaders), and subgroups in terms of the key notions of agency, moral responsibility, organization, and action. Finally, it places this debate within the context of nineteenth-century historiography to explore potential differences between fictional and historiographical treatments of crowds. It concludes that, while histories tend to be pragmatically inclined to treat crowds as social minds, the distinctive affordances of fiction allowed nineteenth-century novelists to be more flexible and to choose either to treat crowds as social minds where appropriate or, as Dickens did in Barnaby Rudge, to complicate or undermine this notion.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| September 01 2017
Crowds in Nineteenth-Century Fiction and Historical Writing
Poetics Today (2017) 38 (3): 549–568.
Alan Palmer, Adam Stier; Crowds in Nineteenth-Century Fiction and Historical Writing. Poetics Today 1 September 2017; 38 (3): 549–568. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-4166698
Download citation file: