Stammering, stuttering and stumbling

Out now: CALLIOPE PI Josephine Hoegaerts' latest article on "Stammering, stuttering and stumbling: A transnational history of the pathologization of dysfluency in nineteenth-century Europe" has been published in the Journal for Interdisciplinary Voice Studies.


The nineteenth century saw a rise in the categorization and systematic observation of manifestations of dysfluent speech. This article examines how, from the 1820s onward, different vocabularies to distinguish between different speech impediments were developed in France, Germany and Britain. It also charts how different meanings, categories and chronologies of ‘stammering’ knowledge were exchanged transnationally. The universalist medical models emerging around stammering were, despite this constant exchange, also closely connected to cultural imaginations of speech, the particular values assigned to one’s (national) language and political modes of belonging. Although the analysis is largely based on prescriptive texts, it also reveals how embodied experiences of dysfluency informed the medical and pedagogical work undertaken in the nineteenth century: a remarkable number of ‘experts’ on speech impediments claimed to be ‘former sufferers’. The history of dysfluency in the nineteenth century is therefore not one of linear medicalization and pathologization, but a continuous exchange of vocabularies between different actors of middle-class culture. Expertise on speaking ‘well’ was shared in medical treatises, but also on the benches of parliament, in cheap self-help pamphlets, in the parlour, or in debating clubs ‐ suggesting that the model of ‘recovery’ was a manifestation of (middle class) culture rather than of a strictly medical discourse.

The full article is availabe here (link to Ingenta Connect).