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The Criminal Corpse, Anatomists, and the Criminal Law: Parliamentary Attempts to Extend the Dissection of Offenders in Late Eighteenth-Century England

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journal contribution
posted on 27.02.2015, 13:22 by Richard Ward
In the later eighteenth century, two schemes were introduced in Parliament for extending the practice of handing over the bodies of executed offenders to anatomists for dissection. Both measures were motivated by the needs of the field of anatomy, including the improvement of surgical skill, the development of medical teaching in the provinces, and public anatomical demonstrations. Yet both failed to pass into law due to concerns about the possibly damaging effects in terms of criminal justice. Through a detailed analysis of the origins and progress of these two parliamentary measures—a moment when the competing claims of anatomy and criminal justice vied for supremacy over the criminal corpse—the article sheds light on judicial attitudes to dissection as a method of punishment and adds to our understanding of the reasons why, in the nineteenth century, the dread of dissection would come to fall upon the dead poor rather than executed offenders.

History

Citation

Journal of British Studies, 2015, 54 (1), pp 63-87

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Journal of British Studies

Publisher

Cambridge University Press (CUP) for The North American Conference on British Studies

issn

0021-9371

eissn

1545-6986

Copyright date

2015

Available date

27/02/2015

Publisher version

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9518912&fileId=S0021937114001671

Notes

Author granted permission for immediate deposit by publisher.

Language

en

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