Hunterian Society Scientific Dinner: Between Art and Artifice: Emotion and the Performance of Surgery in the Romantic Era

Activity: Public engagement and outreachPublic speaking engagements

Description

The period immediately prior to the introduction of anaesthesia in the 1840s is often characterised as a dark age of surgery, presided over by practitioners whose dispassion bordered on cruelty or whose showmanship put their own fame ahead of the patient’s wellbeing. As this talk will show, however, the reality of surgery in the early nineteenth century was more complex and, perhaps, more edifying than this stereotype would suggest. The rise of ‘scientific’ surgery, initiated by John Hunter, promoted a less interventionist approach to operative surgery, while the influence of Romanic sensibility discouraged self-interested flamboyance in favour of an emotional sensitivity to the feelings of the patient. Moreover, managing the occasionally chaotic space of the operating theatre required the exercise of considerable moral authority and emotional resolve. This talk seeks to bring to life the practice and performance of surgery in the Romantic era in all of its emotional richness, complexity and contradiction.

Estimated audience numbers (if applicable)

80
Period20 Jan 2020
Event titleBetween Art and Artifice: Emotion and the Performance of Surgery in the Romantic Era
Event typeSeminar
LocationLondon, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational