Study Day Review: Mystery and Medicine

Medicine and Mystery: The Dark Side of Science in Victorian Fiction

A Victorian Popular Fiction Association – NUI Galway Study Day

Key-note speakers

Ms Sarah Wise, Author

Mr Alexander Black, NUI Galway – ‘The Early Years of Anatomy in Galway’

Exhibition – “Medicine and Mystery in C19th Galway”, Curated by Anna Gasperini and Paul Rooney

CFP Date: 17th March 2017

Conference Date: 8th June 2017

Location: National University of Ireland, Galway

Conference website:

Twitter: @meds_myst19

The internationally recognised Victorian Popular Fiction Association (VPFA) and the National University of Ireland, Galway, invite you to submit paper proposals for this interdisciplinary study day devoted to exploring representations of medicine and mystery in the Victorian era.

The nineteenth century saw unprecedented developments in medical science, which caused simultaneously wonder and anxiety in the wider public. Victorian popular authors such as Wilkie Collins, Florence Marryat, Charles Dickens, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon enthusiastically explored the themes of medicine and surgical innovation in their work, exploiting their sensational potential. At the same time, the hopes and controversies generated by advancements in the medical field were often the subject of public debate via newspapers, magazines, and cartoons. The conference organisers welcome 20-minute papers on the exploration of the topic. Speakers from Literary History, Medical History, and Medical Humanities backgrounds are welcome. Topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Medical advancements & the novel
  • The doctor and/or patient in Victorian fiction
  • The doctor as detective/criminal
  • Doctor-patient relationship in fiction and reality
  • “Popular” medicine: quackery, advertisements, popular remedies
  • Disease and popular novelists
  • Medical developments and the press: newspapers, journals, cartoons
  • Neo-Victorian medicine: novels, movies, and TV series
  • Medicine and crime: bodysnatchers, murderers, the development of forensic medicine
  • Controversial ideologies in Victorian medicine: eugenics, the Anatomy Act
  • Medicine and poverty
  • Medicine, pseudo-science and the supernatural
  • Frightening representations: disease and medicine in painting and pictures
  • Lunacy in Victorian fiction and non-fiction
  • Medicine and Victorian notions of gender
  • Freak shows and medicine
  • Disability in reality and fiction

Please submit a 300-word proposal and a 50-word biography in Word format to Ms Anna Gasperini and Dr Paul Rooney at by Friday 17th March 2017.