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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Periodicals offer a wonderful guide to the Victorian age, and to the ways in which science entered into the general culture of the time. This study considers a range of different kinds of periodicals, and the diverse ways in which they engaged with contemporary science. Although evolutionary theory was obviously a significant presence, it formed only one part of a complex picture. In the literary-oriented periodicals, for example, we find particular emphasis placed on the ways in which scientific thinking appeared to intersect with the interests of fiction and poetry, whether in theories of selfhood or personal responsibility, or the relations between science and religion. There was also, more generally, a fascination with new inventions, and the possibilities opened up by new technologies, such as the ingenious suggestion for a ‘whispering machine’. Periodicals offer an intricate picture of a society grappling with rapid social and cultural change, charged with the immediacy which comes from their serial and time-bound nature. In their integration of cutting-edge science with the latest fiction or social commentary they established a model we could do well to emulate.

Keywords: Victorian, science, periodical, evolution, Darwin, Spalding, instinct, dreams, unconscious

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