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Repositioning Victorian Sciences

Repositioning Victorian Sciences

Shifting Centres in Nineteenth-Century Thinking

Edited by David Clifford, Elisabeth Wadge, Alex Warwick, Martin Willis

An intriguing look at the marginal sciences of the nineteenth century and their influence on the culture of the period.

Hardback, 264 Pages


January 2006

£70.00, $115.00

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About This Book

'Sciences' were named and formed with great speed in the nineteenth century. Yet what constitutes a 'true' science? The Victorian era facilitated the rise of practices such as phrenology and physiognomy, so-called sciences that lost their status and fell out of use rather swiftly. This collection of essays seeks to examine the marginalised sciences of the nineteenth century in an attempt to define the shifting centres of scientific thinking, specifically asking: how do some sciences emerge to occupy central ground and how do others become consigned to the margins? The essays in this collection explore the influence of nineteenth-century culture on the rise of these sciences, investigating the emergence of marginal sciences such as scriptural geology and spiritualism. 'Repositioning Victorian Sciences' is a valuable addition to our understanding of nineteenth-century science in its original context, and will also be of great interest to those studying the era as a whole.


'This is a significant, wide-ranging examination of Victorian scientific thought and practice, demonstrating that the boundaries between "marginal" or "pseudo" science and "real" science need to be rethought.' —Kirstie Blair, University of Oxford

Author Information

David Clifford teaches English at Homerton College, Cambridge. His research interests focus on eighteenth -and nineteenth-century literature, history of science and scientific ideas. He is co-editor of a collection of essays also published by Anthem Press, 'Outsiders Looking In: The Rossettis, Then and Now' (2004).

Elisabeth Wadge is a professional writer and editor. Since completing her doctorate at the University of Cambridge on the influence of Victorian psychical research upon models of personality and narration, she has continued to supervise students for the English Tripos.

Alex Warwick is Head of the Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Westminster. Her research interests are mainly in the field of late nineteenth-century studies and the Gothic.

Martin Willis is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Glamorgan. His research interests lie in the intersections between nineteenth-century fiction and marginal sciences, in which area he has published widely.


Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors; 1. Margins and Centres; Section I: Shifted Centres: 2. 'Speakers Concerning the Earth': Ruskin's Geology After 1860; 3. Simming at the Edges of Scientific Respectability: Sea Serpents in the Victorian Era; 4. 'The Drugs, the Blister and the Lancet are all Laid Aside': Hydropathy and Medical Orthodoxy in Scotland, 1840-1900; 5. Anna Kingsford: Scientist and Sorceress; 6. A Science for One or a Science for All? Physiognomy, Self-Help, and the Practical Benefits of Science; Section II: Contested Knowledges: 7. 'Supposed DIfferences': Lydia Becker and Victorian Women's Participation in the BAAS; 8. A Fair Trial for Spiritualism?: Fighting Dirty in the Pall Mall Gazette; 9. 'This is Ours and For Us': The Mechanic's Magazine and Low Scientific Culture in Regency London; 10. How did the Conservation of Energy Become 'The Highest Law in All Science'?; 11. 'Scriptural Geology', Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation and Contested Authority in Nineteenth-Century British Science; 12. 'This House is a Temple of Research': Country-House Centres for Late Victorian Science; Section III: Entering the Modern: 13. Fresnel's Particular Waves: Models of Light as Catalytic Modes of Worldmaking in Early Modern Times; 14. Re-imagining  Heaven: Victorian Lunar Studies and the Anxiety of Loneliness; 15. 'You Should Get Your Head Examined': Freudian Psychoanalysis and the Limits of Nineteenth-Century Science; 16. Scholars, Scientists and Sexual Inverts: Authority and Sexology in Nineteenth-Century Britain; 17. Unmasking Immorality: Popular Opposition to Laboratory Science in Late Victorian Britain; Notes; Select Bibliography

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