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Public health, Victorian domestic space, and the biopolitics of vaccination reform in Bleak House and the lampoons of George Cruikshank

Reese, Lauren (2019) Public health, Victorian domestic space, and the biopolitics of vaccination reform in Bleak House and the lampoons of George Cruikshank. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The introduction of the Compulsory Vaccine Act of 1853 marked an important moment in the crusade for public health in which the State inserted itself in the lives of private citizens in unprecedented ways. The increasing regulations seen in the 19th century succeeded in establishing a Victorian bio-political regime. The emergence of this state can be better understood through the evolution of disease concepts and preventative practices from the 18th-century’s introduction of inoculation in England to the 19th-century’s vaccines and their subsequent regulation. In this thesis, I will examine the gradual coalescence of the bio-political regime through Victorian public health discourses and the medical and legal measures designed to cure and prevent disease. Reviewing the gradual medicalization of everyday life, I trace the development of more and more formalized regulations of the body that came to fruition in the 19th century, especially in smallpox vaccination developments, laws, and administration. I also examine the ways in which the preoccupation with contagion in Bleak House rehearses a bio-political logic. To do so, I compare the famous Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s public activities to promote inoculation to Esther Summerson’s private suffering and by juxtaposing Dickens’ pro-regulation attitude to the resistance to bio-politics evident in the satirical cartoons of George Cruikshank.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reese, Laurenler66@pitt.eduler66
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMurray Twyning,
Committee MemberFuson,
Committee MemberAziz,
Committee MemberNappi,
Date: 16 December 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 November 2019
Approval Date: 16 December 2019
Submission Date: 6 December 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 65
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: N/A
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 14:20
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2019 14:20


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