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The Science of Starving in Victorian Literature, Medicine, and Political Economy$
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Andrew Mangham

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198850038

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198850038.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

Starvation Science and Political Economy

Starvation Science and Political Economy

(p.20) 1 Starvation Science and Political Economy
The Science of Starving in Victorian Literature, Medicine, and Political Economy

Andrew Mangham

Oxford University Press

This chapter suggests, contrary to views such as those expressed in Terry Eagleton’s Heathcliff and the Great Hunger (1995), that political economy was not ‘a gross, materialist language, heavy with biological ballast’, but rather a set of abstractions based on moral judgement and laissez-faire approaches to wealth and well-being. Looking at the major works that pioneered dietetics, gut physiology, and hunger therapeutics, it sets out how scientists, surgeons, and doctors offered an alternative narrative of hunger as unnecessary, unjust, and unnatural. Comparing understandings of famine and sickness during the Irish Hunger against the ill-assumed confidence of statisticians, Chapter 1 also studies how science developed a critically sophisticated, multi-textured mode of exploring the meanings, languages, and repercussions of hunger.

Keywords:   Physiology, medicine, political economy, dietetics, gut science, starvation, famine

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