The Cancer Problem: Malignancy in Nineteenth-Century Britain

ISBN : 9780198866145

Agnes Arnold-Forster
272 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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The Cancer Problem offers the first medical, cultural, and social history of cancer in nineteenth-century Britain. It begins by looking at a community of doctors and patients who lived and worked in the streets surrounding the Middlesex Hospital in London. It follows in their footsteps as they walked the labyrinthine lanes and passages that branched off Tottenham Court Road; then, through seven chapters, its focus expands to successively include the rivers, lakes, and forests of England, the mountains, poverty, and hunger of the four nations of the British Isles, the reluctant and resistant inhabitants of the British Empire, and the networks of scientists and doctors spread across Europe and North America. The Cancer Problem: Malignancy in Nineteenth-Century Britain argues that it was in the nineteenth century that cancer acquired the unique emotional, symbolic, and politicized status it maintains today. Through an interrogation of the construction, deployment, and emotional consequences of the disease's incurability, this book reframes our conceptualization of the relationship between medicine and modern life and reshapes our understanding of chronic and incurable maladies, both past and present.


Introduction: Malignancy in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Part One: Characteristics and Cure
1 From Home to Hospital
2 Incurability and the Clinic
3 Cancer Therapeutics
4 Cancer Quackery
Part Two: Causes
5 Counting and Mapping Cancer
6 Cancer under the Microscope
7 Making Cancer Modern
Conclusion: Cancer Then and Now

About the author: 

Dr Agnes Arnold-Forster is a social, cultural, and medical historian of modern Britain. She is a postdoctoral research and engagement fellow on the Wellcome Trust Investigator Award, Surgery & Emotion, based at the University of Roehampton. She completed her PhD at King's College London in 2017 and has published widely in journals such as Social History of Medicine, Medical Humanities, and the British Medical Journal.

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