Monday, February 26, 2018

Mangham on Dickens' Forensic Realism

Book CoverAndrew Mangham, University of Reading, published Dickens's Forensic Realism: Truth, Bodies Evidence in 2017. From the press:
Dickens’s Forensic Realism: Truth, Bodies, Evidence by Andrew Mangham is one of the first studies to bring the medical humanities to bear on the work of Dickens. Turning to the field of forensic medicine (or medical jurisprudence), Mangham uncovers legal and medical contexts for Dickens’s ideas that result in new readings of novels, short stories, and journalism by this major Victorian author. Dickens’s Forensic Realism argues that the rich and unstable nature of truth and representation in Dickens owes much to the ideas and strategies of a forensic Victorian age, obsessed with questioning the relationship between clues and truths, evidences and answers.
As Mangham shows, forensic medicine grew out of a perceived need to understand things with accuracy, leaning in part on the range of objectivities that inspired the inorganic sciences. At the same time, it had the burden of assisting the law in convicting the guilty and in exonerating the innocent. Practitioners of forensic medicine were uniquely mindful of unwanted variables such as human error and the vagaries of interpretation. In readings of Oliver TwistOur Mutual FriendBleak HouseThe Pickwick PapersGreat Expectations, and Dickens’s early journalism, Mangham demonstrates that these questions about signification, perception, and reality are central to the stylistic complexities and playful tone often associated with Dickens. Moreover, the medico-legal context of Dickens’s fiction illuminates the richness and profundity, style and impact of Dickens’s narratives.
Praise for the book:

“This is a beautifully written, pioneering book—one of the first in this new area of forensic criminal studies that focus on literature. For Victorianists across the fields of English literature, history, history of science, history of law, and medical humanities, and for Dickens scholars in particular, Dickens’s Forensic Realism will be indispensable.” -Marlene Tromp
Dickens’s Forensic Realism is a fascinating and innovative book that will make an important and unexpected contribution to both Dickens studies and history of science.” -Holly Furneaux 

Further information is available here