Strange Science: Investigating the Limits of Knowledge in the Victorian Age

Strange Science: Investigating the Limits of Knowledge in the Victorian Age

By Lara Pauline Karpenko (editor)
Book Description

'Strange Science: Investigating the Limits of Knowledge in the Victorian Age' is an unprecedented collection that examines marginal, fringe, and unconventional forms of scientific inquiry, as well as their cultural representations in the Victorian period. Although now relegated to the category of the pseudoscientific, fields like mesmerism and psychical research captured the imagination of the Victorian public. Conversely, many branches of science that we now view as uncontroversial, such as physics and botany, were often associated with unorthodox methods of inquiry. Whether incorporated into mainstream scientific thought, or relegated by 21st century historians to the category of the pseudo- or even anti-scientific, these sciences generated conversation, enthusiasm, and controversy within Victorian society.

Table of Contents
  • Contents
  • Foreword - Dame Gillian Beer
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction - Lara Karpenko and Shalyn Claggett
  • Part I. Strange Plants: New Frontiers in the Natural World
    • 1. Victorian Orchids and the Forms of Ecological Society - Lynn Voskuil
    • 2. Discriminating the “Minuter Beauties of Nature”: Botany as Natural Theology in a Victorian Medical School - Meegan Kennedy
    • 3. “A Perfect World of Wonders”: Marianne North and the Pleasures and Pursuits of Botany - Narin Hassan
    • 4. Killer Plants of the Late Nineteenth Century - Elizabeth Chang
  • Part II. Strange Bodies: Rethinking Physiology
    • 5. Reading through Deafness: Francis Galton and the Strange Science of Psychophysics - Danielle Coriale
    • 6. Performing Phonographic Physiology - James Emmott
    • 7. “So Extraordinary a Bond”: Mesmerism and Sympathetic Identification in Charles Adams’s Notting Hill Mystery - Lara Karpenko
    • 8. Immoral Science in The Picture of Dorian Gray - Suzanne Raitt
  • Part III. Strange Energies: Reconceptualizing the Physical Universe
    • 9. Chaotic Fictions: Nonlinear Effects in Victorian Science and Literature - Barri J. Gold
    • 10. The Victorian Occult Atom: Annie Besant and Clairvoyant Atomic Research - Sumangala Bhattacharya
    • 11. Inductive Science, Literary Theory, and the Occult in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “Suggestive” System - Anna Maria Jones
    • 12. Psychical Research and the Fantastic Science of Spirits - L. Anne Delgado
    • 13. The Energy of Belief: The Unseen Universe, and the Spirit of Thermodynamics - Tamara Ketabgian
  • Contributors
  • Index
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