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    The experimental conception hospital: dating pregnancy and the gothic imagination

    Davis, Isabel (2019) The experimental conception hospital: dating pregnancy and the gothic imagination. Social History of Medicine 32 (4), pp. 773-798. ISSN 0951-631X.

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    The Experimental Conception Hospital is a fictional laboratory described in a note by Robert Lyall on the medical evidence given in the Gardner Peerage dispute (1825-6). This fantasy institution would discover the natural length of human gestation and ascertain from when and what to date conception, calculations which eluded the House of Lords Peerage Committee which heard the case. This article introduces the Gardner case and Lyall’s writing about it, focussing on the Gothicism which emerges particularly in relation to the perceived secrecy of the female reproductive body. By considering Lyall’s Experimental Conception Hospital alongside three other technologies – the Panopticon, the hot air balloon and anatomical drawings of the gravid uterus – this article discovers the anachronistic persistence of supposedly out-dated modes of thoughts around female sexuality and reproductive biology in an apparently hyper-modern moment.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Gestation, Conception, Gothicism, Women’s Secrets, Gardner Peerage
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2018 10:43
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:42


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