An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America

A forthcoming book on the history of phrenology may interest AHP readers. An Organ of Murder:
Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America
by Courtney E. Thompson is described as follows:

An Organ of Murder explores the origins of both popular and elite theories of criminality in the nineteenth-century United States, focusing in particular on the influence of phrenology. In the United States, phrenology shaped the production of medico-legal knowledge around crime, the treatment of the criminal within prisons and in public discourse, and sociocultural expectations about the causes of crime. The criminal was phrenology’s ideal research and demonstration subject, and the courtroom and the prison were essential spaces for the staging of scientific expertise. In particular, phrenology constructed ways of looking as well as a language for identifying, understanding, and analyzing criminals and their actions. This work traces the long-lasting influence of phrenological visual culture and language in American culture, law, and medicine, as well as the practical uses of phrenology in courts, prisons, and daily life.

Table of Contents
Introduction    Through a Mirror, Darkly
1                      Origins and Organs     
2                      Transatlantic Societies and Skulls
3                      Phrenology on Trial
4                      The Prison as Laboratory
5                      Policing the Self and the Stranger 
6                      A Victory for Phrenology?     
Epilogue          Phrenological Futures        

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.