Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

II.X.3 Mirth

In an 1884 Popular Science Monthly,* physician and pseudoscience peddler Thomas Smith Clouston argues that women are too exhaustible to endure advanced education, as he refers to it, "over-brain-work." Lily exemplifies a clever contradiction to the period's sexist arguments about the supposed dangers inherent in over-educating young women. For Lily suffers from exhaustion because she is a woman with little to no practical expertise. Clouston argues: "As for a store of energy being laid up, as it should be at that age, for the future, for woman's work of the future, for motherhood, for the race of the future, how can it be, when every available energy is taken up in this educative process?"  


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