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Literature and Medicine in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press

Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 1817-1858

Megan Coyer

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The first major study of the relationship between Scottish Romanticism and medical culture

In the early nineteenth century, Edinburgh was the leading centre of medical education and research in Britain. It also laid claim to a thriving periodical culture. Literature and Medicine in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press investigates how Romantic periodicals cultivated innovative literary forms, ideologies and discourses that reflected and shaped medical culture in the nineteenth century. It examines several medically-trained contributors to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, the most influential literary periodical of the time, and draws upon extensive archival and bibliographical research to reclaim these previously neglected medico-literary figures. Situating their work in relation to developments in medical and periodical culture, Megan Coyer’s book advances our understanding of how the nineteenth-century periodical press cross-fertilised medical and literary ideas.

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Introduction: Medicine and Blackwoodian Romanticism
1. Medical Discourse and Ideology in the Edinburgh Review
2. The Tale of Terror and the ‘Medico-Popular’
3. ‘Delta’: The Construction of a Nineteenth-Century Literary Surgeon
4. Professionalisation and the Case of Samuel Warren’s Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician
5. The Rise of Public Health in the Popular Periodical Press: The Political Medicine of W. P. Alison, Robert Gooch, and Robert Ferguson
Coda: Medical Humanism and Blackwood’s Magazine at the Fin de Siècle

About the Author

Megan Coyer is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Glasgow and held a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Medical Humanities from 2012-2016. She received her PhD in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2010, and her first degree is a B.S. in Neuroscience from Lafayette College (Easton, PA USA).


Coyer provides very important new observations and interpretations that substantially broaden the understanding of the mutually constitutive interrelation between medicine and literature and that are by no means valid only for Blackwood’s early-nineteenth-century Edinburgh.

- Antje Dallmann, Humboldt University of Berlin, Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University

This excellent book traces the emergence of medical humanism in the early nineteenth-century Scottish popular press. It is a model of scholarship, bringing into view a body of popular medical writing, distinctive in its Scottish identity and in its insistence that the oppositions of literature and science can be countered.

- Sharon Ruston, Chair in Romanticism, Lancaster University


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