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Title: Performing scientific naturalism : the popular scientific lecture and Victorian culture, c. 1860-1890
Author: Hanks, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 5274
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis situates popular science lectures within broader Victorian cultures of public speech. In so doing, it argues that scientific naturalists such as Thomas Henry Huxley, John Tyndall and Robert Stawell Ball, adopted the lecture form as a specific tool with which to persuade the public of the validity of empirical scientific methods. It establishes a literary theoretical, and historical framework through which the textual versions of their performances should be read, highlighting the ways in which the scientists' claims to objectivity were enhanced, or obfuscated, through translation into print. Chapter one considers how Tyndall and Ball shaped their public performances in order to demonstrate their authority to speak for science. Technologies such as the lantern slide and demonstration apparatus, so integral to these scientists' performances, were represented in print in ways which complicated performers' presentations of scientific objectivity. Chapter two turns to Huxley, and examines the ways in which the scientist's self-presentation as an authoritative and morally upright figure drew on both early nineteenth-century science lecturing conventions, and pulpit oratory. It also shows that Victorian print cultures, including satires, and reporting of speech in newspapers, generated multiple versions of the same performance. The first two chapters illustrate how the male performer's body was integral to their presentation of scientific authority. Chapter three provides a counter-voice to this by examining the public lectures of four women: Catherine Buckton, Arabella Buckley, Eleanor Ormerod and Lydia Becker. Their occupation of the lecture platform challenged the perception that women lacked the physical and intellectual strength to do science. Chapter four looks at scientific themes in the public lectures of two non-scientists, Charles Kingsley and John Ruskin, and the ways in which these men adopted the rhetoric of scientific naturalists to both agree with, and challenge, their claims to scientific authority. Finally, chapter five moves to the provinces, with an in-depth case study of lecture circuits in Manchester. It looks at the way in which public scientific speech moulded class relations in the city, and how scientific naturalists capitalized on the consolidation of civic identities.
Supervisor: Shuttleworth, Sally Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available