Anatomical Dissection in Enlightenment England and Beyond - download pdf or read online

By Piers Mitchell

Excavations of clinical college and workhouse cemeteries undertaken in Britain within the final decade have unearthed interesting new proof for how that our bodies have been dissected or autopsied within the eighteenth and 19th centuries. This ebook brings jointly the newest discoveries by way of those organic anthropologists, along specialists within the early heritage of pathology museums in British scientific faculties and the Royal university of Surgeons of britain, and clinical historians learning the social context of dissection and post-mortem within the Georgian and Victorian classes. jointly they display a formerly unknown view of the perform of anatomical dissection and the function of museums during this interval, in parallel with the attitudes of the overall inhabitants to the examine of human anatomy within the Enlightenment.

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53 The public outrage at the licentious procurement and treatment of bodies culminated in Warburton’s Anatomy Act of 1832, legislation that Hastings and his colleagues vehemently campaigned for. The necessities and practicalities of obtaining human teaching material was not overlooked by the Worcester Medical and Surgical Society. 54 Prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832, compromises had to be made in order to maintain high standards in medical teaching and research. 52 J. Knott, ‘Popular Attitudes to Death and Dissection in Early Nineteenth Century Britain: The Anatomy Act and the Poor’, Labour History, 49 (1989): 1–18.

These approaches need to be taken into account when interpreting the human remains. Collating the evidence from the design of the infirmary, the historical records and the skeletal assemblage, we are given a picture of a successful and reputable hospital establishment, with the primary aims of treating the sick poor and providing a sound level of medical education never far out of mind, perhaps the only contrast to some of the metropolitan infirmaries: ‘Taking the general run of medical practitioners in provincial towns and in the metropolis, the balance of knowledge, science and literature would predominate in the former.

If healing has taken place, we can only infer that an amputation had been undertaken some time prior to death so that it is as likely as not that the presence of the healed amputation in a hospital assemblage is merely a coincidence. Conversely, the absence of pathological changes does not necessarily indicate amputation of a healthy limb from a cadaver since the site of election for an amputation in the living patient should occur proximal to the area of disease. This issue is further compounded if elements were disarticulated subsequent to amputation.

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Anatomical Dissection in Enlightenment England and Beyond by Piers Mitchell

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