Workshop: Reading and Replicating Bodies: Mimicry in Medicine and Culture, 1790-1914

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

One-day Interdisciplinary workshop, funded by the Wellcome Trust
The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), University of Oxford

Reading and Replicating Bodies: Mimicry in Medicine and Culture, 1790-1914
26th March 2015
10.45-18.00 (registration from 9.45)

In the nineteenth century, to read a body was to replicate it. From making anatomical drawings to designing prosthetics, medical practices duplicated human tissue on an unprecedented scale. Yet this urge to copy was also tainted, and literary depictions of scientists – from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau – cast the desire to replicate a living body as absorbing and abhorrent in turn. Replication was also an important topic in the era’s sciences of mind. Writers such as Charles Bell, Charles Darwin and James Mark Baldwin, depicted humans as mirrors, believing an innate compulsion to imitate could explain the development of sympathy (later empathy) language and laws…

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