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Anatomists and Entrepreneurs in Early Eighteenth-Century London

ANITA GUERRINI
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Vol. 59, No. 2 (APRIL 2004), pp. 219-239
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24632433
Page Count: 21
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Abstract

Anatomical demonstration in the eighteenth century took place in many formats. In this essay I discuss public anatomical demonstration as performed by entrepreneurial anatomists in London between 1700 and 1740. These anatomists offered courses, advertised in newspapers, to anyone who was willing to pay. In contrast to courses offered in official settings to prospective physicians and surgeons, these courses emphasized natural philosophy and natural theology rather than practical knowledge. Entrepreneurial lecturers also aimed to entertain. In this article I examine the lectures of James Douglas, William Cheselden, and Frank Nicholls, each of whom differed significantly from the others in style and content but were all anatomical entrepreneurs. All of them, moreover, employed not only human cadavers but also living and dead animals in their lessons. I examine the content of the lectures and the motivations of the lecturers' audiences. I also argue that the prevailing historiographical representation of eighteenthcentury science as "polite" requires considerable revision to accommodate as impolite an activity as public anatomy.

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