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The pen and the scalpel: literature and vivisection, 1875-1912

Hornsby, Asha; (2021) The pen and the scalpel: literature and vivisection, 1875-1912. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis examines the representation of vivisection in England between the first and second Royal Commissions (1875-1912).Within the overarching context of Victorian Studies, it engages significantly with three fields: literary studies (including periodical studies), history (most notably the history of science and the emotions), and animal studies. It considers the portrayal of live animal experimentation in literature, visual culture, scientific writings, and the newspaper and periodical press. The antivivisection movement attracted support from a striking number of eminent and popular authors, poets, and playwrights, who attended meetings, signed petitions, contributed funds, and lent their pen to the cause. This thesis considers their involvement and assesses the nature and strategies of protest literature. However, vivisection also permeated the Victorian imagination and shaped contemporary literary culture in ways that the movement did not anticipate and could not control, offering writers formal and imaginative opportunities beyond a straightforward concern with animal welfare. Depicting animal pain posed unique representational challenges, as H. G. Wells in particular explored. The feelings of the vivisector, and his ability to both read and to be read, was another recurrent preoccupation of the period’s literature, as illustrated in fiction by Marie Louise de la Ramée (better known as Ouida), Wilkie Collins, and the lesser-known novelists Edward Berdoe and Walter Hadwen. Moreover, contemporary physiological theories and practices relating to animal experimentation were used by both novelists and critics – including realists such as George Eliot and naturalists like Émile Zola and August Strindberg – to reflect on the nature of fiction-writing and to think through ideas concerning plot and character. ‘The Pen and the Scalpel: Literature and Vivisection, 1875-1912’ sheds light on the complex entanglement of art and science in the late-Victorian period and explores how the representational preoccupations opened up by vivisection debates often sat uneasily alongside a socio-political commitment to animal protection.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The pen and the scalpel: literature and vivisection, 1875-1912
Event: UCL
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10120873
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