The next seminar is Tuesday 5 November, 4pm, seminar room 2.57, Simon Building, and it will be hosted by Neil Pemberton.
Our speaker is Victoria Bates from the University of Bristol. Her talk is entitled: ‘The Doctor as Scientist, Detective and Moralist: Rethinking Specialisation Narratives in English Local Courts, 1850-1914’ and you can find the abstract below.
Tea and coffee will be served at 3.30pm next door to the seminar room, and the talk will be followed by drinks and dinner.
The Doctor as Scientist, Detective and Moralist: Rethinking Specialisation Narratives in English Local Courts, 1850-1914
This paper begins from the premise that high-level and high-profile criminal trials in England, such as those held at the Old Bailey, were not representative of all Victorian and Edwardian courts. Drawing on medical evidence from over 600 cases of suspected sexual crime in Middlesex, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Devon, it shows that in mid-level courts medical witnesses’ specialisation in different areas of forensics was limited even by the early-twentieth century. Most medical witnesses in local, mid-level courts were general practitioners and were the only scientific witnesses called in a trial. For this reason, a single medical witness often played multiple roles in the prosecution of a case. This paper will examine three of those roles: detection, scientific analysis & moral comment. It will show that by removing assumptions about specialisation and professionalisation, we can pay attention to the multifaceted nature of forensic medicine. ‘Forensic medicine’ was not a homogeneous category – either at a national or an individual level. If we move away from attempts to define Victorian and Edwardian ‘forensic medicine’, we can more productively understand some of the many official and unofficial contributions made by medical men to the judicial process.