The Line(s) Between Faith and Madness

How do we discern between genuine religiosity and mental pathology? This talk explores the muddied waters of debate regarding this question in the context 19th and turn of the century America. Dr. Prince will discuss the ways in which gender impacted medical and popular interpretations of new religious movements (ie. evangelical revivalism, Spiritualism, Pentecostalism and Christian Science) as indicators of insanity and causes of asylum admissions. This talk will be of interest to those curious about currents within American religious history, historical interpretations of mental illness and proto-tabloid debates.

Alexandra Prince holds a PhD in History from The University at Buffalo (SUNY) and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Disability Studies. Their research concerns the intersection of the history of insanity in the United States and the history of new religious movements. They are currently working on a book manuscript that explores this subject over the long 19th century.