Everyday experiences of medicine and illness in the novels of Wilkie Collins

Williams, Helen (2015). Everyday experiences of medicine and illness in the novels of Wilkie Collins. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Focusing on the novels of Wilkie Collins, this thesis identifies the ways in which Collins’s narratives outline the complex nature of layperson interactions with, and experiences of, medicine, healthcare and illness in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Drawing on a variety of contextual sources, ranging from letters, diaries and recipe books to newspaper articles, architectural plans and courtroom testimonies, the discussion uses Collins’s work alongside these documents to demonstrate that many of his middle-class readers would have encountered aspects of medicine and illness in a surprising array of settings, spaces, discourses and domains. In bringing these points of intersection to light, the thesis argues that Collins’s work stands as a substantial record of how the lay public energetically and intelligently engaged with medical matters – a point often overlooked – but also emphasises Collins’s own vibrant interest in medicine, bodies and illness. In so doing, the discussion is able to draw out new dimensions to Collins’s treatment of key themes, such as the relationships between bodies and gender, architecture and illness, and medicine and literature, and to provide new readings of a range of his major and lesser-known works.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5816


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