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Raw Material – Producing Pathology in Victorian Culture

Raw Material – Producing Pathology in Victorian Culture

Raw Material – Producing Pathology in Victorian Culture
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Raw Material – Producing Pathology in Victorian Culture Paperback - 2000

by Erin O'Connor/ Erin O'Connor

  • New
  • Paperback


Duke Univ Pr, 2000. Paperback. New. 288 pages. 8.75x5.75x0.75 inches.
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  • Title Raw Material – Producing Pathology in Victorian Culture
  • Author Erin O'Connor/ Erin O'Connor
  • Binding Paperback
  • Condition New
  • Pages 288
  • Volumes 1
  • Language ENG
  • Publisher Duke Univ Pr, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A.
  • Date 2000
  • Illustrated Yes
  • Features Illustrated
  • Bookseller's Inventory # x-0822326167
  • ISBN 9780822326168 / 0822326167
  • Weight 0.85 lbs (0.39 kg)
  • Dimensions 9 x 6 x 0.6 in (22.86 x 15.24 x 1.52 cm)
  • Themes
    • Chronological Period: 19th Century
    • Cultural Region: British
  • Library of Congress subjects Social medicine - England - History - 19th, Medicine, Industrial - England - History -
  • Library of Congress Catalog Number 00030308
  • Dewey Decimal Code 610.942

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From the publisher

Raw Material analyzes how Victorians used the pathology of disease to express deep-seated anxieties about a rapidly industrializing England's relationship to the material world. Drawing on medicine, literature, political economy, sociology, anthropology, and popular advertising, Erin O'Connor explores "the industrial logic of disease," the dynamic that coupled pathology and production in Victorian thinking about cultural processes in general, and about disease in particular.
O'Connor focuses on how four particularly troubling physical conditions were represented in a variety of literature. She begins by exploring how Asiatic cholera, which reached epidemic proportions on four separate occasions between 1832 and 1865, was thought to represent the dangers of cultural contamination and dissolution. The next two chapters concentrate on the problems breast cancer and amputation posed for understanding gender. After discussing how breast cancer was believed to be caused by the female body's intolerance to urban life, O'Connor turns to men's bodies, examining how new prosthetic technology allowed dismembered soldiers and industrial workers to reconstruct themselves as productive members of society. The final chapter explores how freak shows displayed gross deformity as the stuff of a new and improved individuality. Complicating an understanding of the Victorian body as both a stable and stabilizing structure, she elaborates how Victorians used disease as a messy, often strategically unintelligible way of articulating the uncertainties of chaotic change. Over the course of the century, O'Connor shows, the disfiguring process of disease became a way of symbolically transfiguring the self. While cholera, cancer, limb loss, and deformity incapacitated and even killed people, their dramatic symptoms provided opportunities for imaginatively adapting to a world where it was increasingly difficult to determine not only what it meant to be human but also what it meant to be alive.
Raw Material will interest an audience of students and scholars of Victorian literature, cultural history, and the history of medicine.

First line

This is the story of Asiatic cholera, as told by John A. Benson's 1893 treatise on the subject: Up from the dark Plutonian caverns of Erebus, up from the clouded Stygian valley, up from the depths of hell, in the early part of this century, arose the Goddess of Filth, and she wandered around over the face of the globe, seeking for a home to her liking.

From the rear cover

"The body in distress and deformation--black from cholera, excrescent from breast cancer, monstrous, and repaired through prosthesis--offers a prism through which O'Connor refracts the crisis of the self in the world's first industrial society. This is a complex, empirically rich, reflective and vigorously argued book that will be welcomed by literary critics, by historians of the body and of the nineteenth century, and by anyone engaged with cultural theory."--Thomas Laqueur, author of "Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud"

About the author

Erin O'Connor is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.