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The Medical Blackwoodians and Medico-Literary Synergy in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press

The Medical Blackwoodians and Medico-Literary Synergy in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press

Funded by:  Wellcome Trust

Main contact:  Dr Megan Coyer

Start date:  2012

End date:  2016



Associated people:

In the early nineteenth century, Edinburgh was the capital of medical education and research in Britain and also laid claim to a thriving periodical culture, which served as a significant medium for the dissemination and exchange of medical and literary ideas throughout Britain, the colonies, and beyond. The influence of medical culture on English Romantic writers is well-established, but the same has yet to explored in regard to a distinctive Scottish Romanticism. The innovative form and ideology of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, the most influential literary periodical of Romantic-era Scotland, particularly enabled medico-literary synergy, and this project examines several contributors to Blackwood's who also practiced medicine or received medical training. These writers had wide-ranging careers, producing significant medical texts and also contributing to numerous other periodicals, such as the Quarterly Review, the Scots Magazine and Fraser's Magazine. Through a study of their role in making Blackwood's such an influential site of Romantic medico-literary production and the function of journalistic and imaginative writing in their broader medical practice, this project examines how the Scottish periodical press cross-fertilised medical and literary ideas in the nineteenth century.

Published Outputs:

Coyer, M., Literature and Medicine in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press: Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 1817-1858 (monograph forthcoming in 2016).

Coyer, M. (2015) Medical discourse and ideology in the Edinburgh Review: a Chaldean exemplar. In: Benchimol, A., Brown, R. and Shuttleton, D. (eds.) Before Blackwood's: Scottish Journalism in the Age of Enlightenment. Pickering & Chatto: London, pp. 103-157. ISBN 9781848935501

Coyer, M. J. (2014) Phrenological controversy and the medical imagination: 'a modern Pythagorean' inBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine In: Coyer, M. J. and Shuttleton, D. E. (eds.) Scottish Medicine and Literary Culture, 1726-1832. Series: Clio Medica: Perspectives in Medical Humanities (94). Rodopi: Amsterdam. ISBN 9789042038912

Coyer, M. J., and Shuttleton, D. E. (eds) (2014), Scottish Medicine and Literary Culture, 1726-1832. Series: Clio medica : perspectives in medical humanities (94). Rodopi: Amsterdam, pp. 1-22. ISBN 9789042038912

Coyer, M. (2014) The medical kailyard. Bottle Imp (15).

Conference Presentations:

'The Medical Blackwoodians and Nineteenth-Century Medical Humanism', Northern Network for the Medical Humanities, University of Glasgow, 22 January 2016

‘“Why are Professional Men Indifferent Poets?”: John Keats and the Construction of the Physician-Poet in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine’, Guy’s Hospital London, 1-3 May 2015

‘James Hogg and the Medical Blackwoodians: Some New Critical Approaches’, University of Toronto, 9-11 April 2015

‘The Medical Blackwoodians: Literature and Medicine in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press’, Glasgow University, Medical Humanities Reading Group, 5 November 2014

‘Periodical Anxieties and Medical Humanism in the Nineteenth Century’, Anxious Forms: The Body in Crisis in Victorian Literature, University of Glasgow, 8 August 2014 (invited plenary lecture)

‘The Rise of Public Health in the Romantic Periodical Press: The Political Medicine of Robert Gooch (1784-1830)’, NASSR, Washington, DC, 10-13 July 2014

‘“Delta”: The Construction of a Nineteenth-Century Literary Surgeon’, World Congress of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow, 2-5 July 2014 (invited paper)

‘Medical Tales for the Masses: Samuel Warren’s Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician’, NeMLA, Susquehanna University, 3-6 April 2014

‘The Medicalization of Death in Blackwood’s Magazine (1817-1825)’, Death in Scotland: From the Medieval to the Modern, University of Edinburgh, 31 January 2014-1 February 2014

‘Nineteenth-Century Medical Morality and Narrative Authority: The Case of Samuel Warren’s Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician (1830-1837)’, Attentive Writers: Healthcare, Authorship, and Authority, University of Glasgow, 23-25 August 2013

‘The Howisons: Philosophy, Phrenology & the Medical Imagination in Romantic Scotland’, The British Society for Literature and Science Annual Conference, Cardiff University, 11-13 April 2013

‘The Popular and the Professional: Medicine in the Nineteenth-Century Scottish Periodical Press’, Healing and Curing, University of Glasgow, 27-28 August 2012

‘Medical Culture in the Public Sphere: A Context for James Hogg’, James Hogg and the Romantics, University of Glasgow, 29 June-1 July 2012

Public Talks:

‘Medicine and the Public in the Era of Reform: The Case of Samuel Warren's Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician (1830-1837)’, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow, Coffee Conversations in the Library series, 3 December 2014.

‘Dissecting Edinburgh: Literature and Medicine in the Scottish Capital’, AHRC-funded Dissecting Edinburgh Public Engagement Series, Surgeon’s Hall and University of Edinburgh, 16 May 2013.

Image Credit: University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections.