Thesis ID: CBB001561398

Miscellaneous Blood: GWM Reynolds, Dickens, and the Anatomical Moment (2008)


Hauser, Helen M. (Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz
Jordan, John O.

Publication Date: 2008
Edition Details: Advisor: Jordan, John O.
Physical Details: 317 pp.
Language: English

England in the 1830s and 1840s was obsessed with anatomy and dissection. The language of anatomy appears in sociological texts, medical texts, miscellany publications, and popular fiction of the period. This dissertation analyzes several ways "anatomy" was used both literally and metaphorically in the 1830s and 1840s, and argues for the cultural relevance of the concept. Beginning with the Burke and Hare murders of 1828-9 and the 1832 Anatomy Act and extending through 1848, this dissertation investigates how anatomical concepts influenced both the form and content of popular fiction produced by George William MacArthur Reynolds (1814-79) and Charles Dickens. This dissertation considers a range of ways the anatomical appears in and modifies popular fiction, especially the most widely read text of the time, Reynolds's The Mysteries of London (1844-6). This study argues for and analyzes the genre of the "miscellany novel," represented here by Dickens's The Pickwick Papers (1836-7) and Reynolds's The Mysteries of London. The "miscellany novel" is a culturally and socially trenchant form that takes the anatomical as its primary mode for constructing wholes out of seemingly discontinuous parts. This study begins with a literal reading of new medical models into Reynolds's construction of criminal characters, and then looks at the metaphorical ways authored texts duplicate dissected bodies. The production of Jeremy Bentham's auto-icon and Queen Victoria's media "dissection" also participate in the cultural moment's approach to the problems of dismemberment and articulation. Miscellany novels are firmly embedded in this anatomical moment: their contemporary popularity and modern readers' difficulties reading them stem from a specific cultural aesthetic of miscellaneous incorporation. This work draws attention to and analyzes a pervasive red thread that informs early nineteenth-century culture and the construction of its literary productions. Based on the twenty-first-century popularity of the Body Worlds exhibits and increasing rates of and awareness about organ and tissue transplantation, this dissertation concludes that we are in another anatomical moment. The Internet is our correlative to the nineteenth-century "miscellany novel," and we can better analyze it by recollecting and reconstructing the early nineteenth-century's anatomical, miscellaneous moment.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 69/06 (2008). Pub. no. AAT 3317379.

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Authors & Contributors
Gómez, Leila
Silleras-Fernandez, Nuria
Prieto, Andres
López Terrada, María Luz
Nunn, Hilary M.
Zwierlein, Anne-Julia
Medical History
19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
Science-Fiction Studies
Spontaneous Generations
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Ashgate Publishing
Cambria Press
Pickering & Chatto
Blast Books
Virginia, University of
University of California, Berkeley
Medicine and literature
Science and literature
Visual representation; visual communication
Dickens, Charles
Eliot, George
Ruskin, John
Doyle, Arthur Conan
Glisson, Francis
Mayhew, Henry
Time Periods
19th century
17th century
Early modern
18th century
20th century, early
20th century
Great Britain
Munich (Germany)
United States
Royal London Hospital
Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons

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