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Title: Women, savages and other animals : the comparative physiology of reproduction, 1850-1914
Author: Blackman, Helen Judith
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 6675
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis examines the medical and scientific constructions of femininity, specifically the discoveries surrounding menstruation and the female reproductive cycle between the 1850s and the 1920s. I concentrate on the British, particularly the English, scene. I explore the emergence of reproductive physiology across four sites - obstetrics in London in the 1870s and 1880s, gynaecology in Liverpool during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, embryology and morphology in Cambridge from the 1890s to the 1910s and finally the emergence of reproductive physiology from the Cambridge and Edinburgh Schools of Agriculture around 1910. In the second chapter I examine the argument between the British obstetrician John Williams, based at University College Hospital, and between G. J. Engelmann and Hanns Kundrat, based in Vienna, on the structure of the uterus. Chapter 3 concentrates on the work of William Blair Bell, co-founder of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. I explore Bell's theory that all the glands acting in concert caused femininity, rather than the then more conventional theory that sex was defined by the presence of ovaries or testes. The second half of the thesis shifts away from medical practitioners to the work of the Cambridge men Walter Heape, a morphologist, and F. H. A. Marshall, a physiologist. Heape investigated the menstrual cycle in monkeys, mapping out the histological changes that occur in the uterus. Marshall was one of the first people to produce a textbook of reproductive physiology, and I examine his text in some detail. Histories of menstruation have tended to concentrate either on the major discoveries surrounding the female reproductive cycle, or on cultural attitudes to menstruation and women. My aim in this thesis has been to bring these two types of history together - to begin to explore the separation of the menstrual cycle in women from the oestrous cycle in animals, within the context of contemporary debates about reproduction and women's role within society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available