Skip to main content
Leicester Special Collections

Studying Victorian Science

Gowan Dawson, Show Me the Bone: Reconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Gowan Dawson, Show Me the Bone: Reconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Nineteenth-century palaeontologists boasted that, shown a single bone, they could identify or even reconstruct the extinct creature it came from with infallible certainty—“Show me the bone, and I will describe the animal!” Show Me the Bone tells the story of the rise and fall of this famous claim, tracing its fortunes from Europe to America and showing how it persisted in popular science and literature and shaped the practices of palaeontologists long after the method on which it was based had been refuted. In so doing, Gowan Dawson reveals how decisively the practices of the scientific elite were—and still are—shaped by their interactions with the general public.

Geoffrey Belknap, From a Photograph: Authenticity, Science, and the Periodical Press, 1870-1890 (London: Bloomsbury, 2016)

Geoffrey Belknap, From a Photograph: Authenticity, Science, and the Periodical Press, 1870-1890 (London: Bloomsbury, 2016)

Throughout its early history, photography's authenticity was contested and challenged: how true a representation of reality can a photograph provide? Does the reproduction of a photograph affect its value as authentic or not? In From a Photograph, Geoffrey Belknap examines these questions in the light of the early scientific periodical press, exploring how the perceived veracity of a photograph, its use as scientific evidence and the technologies developed for printing it were intimately connected.

Claire Brock, British Women Surgeons and Their Patients, 1860-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Claire Brock, British Women Surgeons and Their Patients, 1860-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)

When women agitated to join the medical profession in Britain during the 1860s, the practice of surgery proved both a help (women were neat, patient and used to needlework) and a hindrance (surgery was brutal, bloody and distinctly unfeminine). Claire Brock examines the cultural, social and self-representation of the woman surgeon from the second half of the nineteenth century until the end of the Great War. Drawing on a rich archive of British hospital records, she investigates precisely what surgery women performed and how these procedures affected their personal and professional reputation, as well as the reactions of their patients to these new phenomena.