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Images of the Woman Reader in Victorian British and American Fiction

Good health is a rhetoric and an informing epistemology, constructing not just plots but readers. Wright is canny, sly, and remarkably able to get beneath the surface of novels—and her readers. An exhilarating study.

Victorian Novel and the Late Victorian Period

She concentrates on how authors meet the narratological challenge of thematizing hygiene—a task that requires novelists to depart from the model of crisis and resolution privileged in both case studies of illness and the form of fiction itself. Thus reading against the grain, Wright uncovers a hidden history of health and of the novel itself. If nineteenth-century Britain witnessed the rise of medical professionalism, it also witnessed rampant quackery.

It is tempting to categorize historical practices as either orthodox or quack, but what did these terms really signify in medical and public circles at the time? How did they develop and evolve? What do they tell us about actual medical practices? Reading Victorian Deafness is the first book to address the crucial role that deaf people, and their unique language of signs, played in Victorian culture.

Violent Women and Sensation Fiction

About this book This book explores ideas of violent femininity across generic and disciplinary boundaries during the nineteenth century. Show all.

Material Information

Conclusion Pages Mangham, Andrew. Show next xx. Services for this book Download High-Resolution Cover.

PAGE 1. One of the first lessons I learned was the incredible diversity of opinions they held, which challenged my simplistic assumptions about a monolithic medical profession speaking with one voice.

Bibliographic Information

These vacillations exist across the range of nineteenth-century medical journals, at times making it impossible even to divide them into pro- or anti-woman doctor camps. There are, of course, journals which were vociferous in their opinions.


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In , the BMJ ran a rather histrionic lead article in which it suggested that women entering the world of work — including medicine — would be detrimental to both the interests of their sex and society. For instance, two weeks after its lead article querying whether there was any appetite for medical women, the Lancet printed a list of petitions submitted by Mrs Henry Kingsley in favour of medical education for women 21 May Indeed, many of the medical journals printed correspondence contrary to their own editorial views, allowing opponents from both sides of the debate to trade linguistic blows.

Interestingly, the Medical Press and Circular did so for several weeks before wading in and issuing its own edict on the medical woman question. This indicates the importance of the correspondence pages in the journals, illustrating how readers were not merely reactive but played vital roles in generating and shaping debates. By tracking the woman doctor debates through different issues and volumes, I have also been able to see how journals revised their opinions over time. In the same decade, the Medical Press and Circular criticised the arguments put forward against female practitioners during debates at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Royal College of Physicians of London, both of which voted to continue excluding women albeit by narrow majorities.

Monitoring contemporary criticism of medical news and events also allows us to gain a wider picture of professional opinion at the time. For example, in isolation, the fact that both Royal Colleges in England voted against admitting women in the s might lead one to conclude that the male medical profession was still remarkably hostile towards women doctors at the turn of the century.