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MHS / History Seminar: Richard Ward

April 26, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Speaker: Richard Ward, University of Sheffield

Title: The Criminal Corpse, Anatomists and the Law in Eighteenth-Century England

Date and time: 26th April, 16:00 – 17:30

Location: Firth Court, Lecture Theatre G02


This paper examines two attempts that were made in the eighteenth century to extend the practice of handing over the bodies of executed criminals to anatomists for dissection. Both measures were motivated by needs of anatomical science, including the improvement of surgery, the development of medical teaching and providing materials for public anatomical demonstrations. Yet both schemes failed to pass into law due to opposition from the judges who worried about the negative impact on the criminal law. The eighteenth century therefore represents a moment when the competing claims of anatomy and criminal justice battled for supremacy over the criminal corpse. By examining this conflict we can develop a better understanding of why, in the nineteenth century, the dread of dissection in the name of science came to fall upon the friendless poor rather than executed criminals.


Richard Ward is a Research Associate in History at the University of Sheffield. He completed his Ph.D. in History at the University of Sheffield in 2011. Between 2011 and 2013 he worked as a Research Associate at the University of Leicester and he is currently a researcher on the Digital Panopticon project (www.digitalpanopticon.org/). Richard’s publications include Print Culture, Crime and Justice in Eighteenth-Century London (Bloomsbury, 2014) and (as editor), A Global History of Execution and the Criminal Corpse (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).



April 26, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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