This collaborative volume explores changing perceptions of health and disease in
the context of the burgeoning global modernities of the long nineteenth century.
During this period, popular and medical understandings of the mind and body were
challenged, modified, and reframed by the politics and structures of ‘modern
life’, understood in industrial, social, commercial, and technological terms.
Bringing together work by leading international scholars, this volume
demonstrates how a multiplicity of medical practices were organised around new
and evolving definitions of the modern self. The study offers varying and
culturally specific definitions of what constituted medical modernity for
practitioners around the world in this period. Chapters examine the ways in
which cancer, suicide, and social degeneration were seen as products of the
stresses and strains of ‘new’ ways of living in the nineteenth century, and
explore the legal, institutional, and intellectual changes that contributed to
both positive and negative understandings of modern medical practice. The volume
traces the ways in which physiological and psychological problems were being
constituted in relation to each other, and to their social contexts, and offers
new ways of contextualising the problems of modernity facing us in the
were disproportionately subject to the experimentation of laboratory-based medicine that often caused more immediate harm than good to their families.
The Fowlers’ phrenology ultimately sustained the essentialist taxonomies from which it promised to liberate its adherents. Their programme of individualistic self-culture was also a means of self-regulation within a normative social code.
Phrenology has remained an undercurrent in Western medicineandculture, resurfacing recently in relation to
C. Oakley, ‘Vital Forms: Bodily Energy in MedicineandCulture, 1870–1925’ (PhD dissertation, University of York, 2016), 14. Emphasis added.
O. Temkin, ‘Metaphors of Human Biology’, in R. C. Stauffer (ed.), Science and Civilisation (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1949), 178–82.
Cancer, modernity, and decline in fin-de-siècle Britain
confluence between imaginings of society and biological understandings of cancer in this period – a relationship made possible by the well-established ‘essential congruity between medicineandculture’.
Crucial to this connection was language that linked the body biological to the body politic. This relationship was not specific to cancer, but common to cultural and medical discourse throughout the nineteenth century and before. In Hutchinson's text, the body is described through analogy to the state; he speaks of ‘cell
Wilson, Tissue Culture in Science and Society: The Public Life of
a Biological Technique in Twentieth Century Britain (Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) pp. 8–27.
62 On interwar attitudes to orthodox medicine, see Martin Pugh, We
Danced all Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars
(London: Vintage, 2009) pp. 37–42.
63 Anna K. Mayer, ‘A Combative Sense of Duty: Englishness and the
Scientists’, in Christopher Lawrence and Anna K. Mayer (eds),
The making of British bioethics
Regenerating England: Science, MedicineandCulture in Inter