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Medicine in television period drama

This collection examines the representation of medicine and medical practices in period drama on television. It explores the fascination that the genre has with the history of illness and the medical profession, which is apparent in the huge number of shows which have medicine as either their narrative focus or as important subplots. Chapter topics are interdisciplinary in nature and range from the professionalisation of medicine in Poldark to the representation of mental illness in Peaky Blinders. This volume reflects on the ways popular culture has constructed and considered the frailty of the human body, the progress – or otherwise – of science, the intersection of medicine, race, class, and gender, and the provision of public healthcare. These dramas do not only reveal much about how we view our corporeal past, however. All these issues are still pertinent today, and frequently they also function as a commentary on, and often a critique of, the issues surrounding medicine in the present day – in particular debates around public health provision, the politics of reproduction, genetic testing and research, and global pandemics.

Early twentieth century surgery on screen
Allitt Marie

In an early episode of The Knick (2014–2015), Dr Algernon Edwards (André Holland), who has been forced to perform surgery in secret in the hospital basement after hours, records details of the process with photographs. Later, we see him, and eventually his colleagues, consult these images through a stereoscope. Edwards makes these photographs partly for patient case notes, and partly to track

in Diagnosing history
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Felicity Chaplin

ageing and did not rule out cosmetic surgery as a solution to the problem of fewer and fewer film roles (Cole; So). However, more recently she has had a change of heart, citing the fact that the older actresses she admires have not had surgery (Verley and Defouilloy 153). In 2017 Gainsbourg addressed the way magazine images of female stars, including herself, are airbrushed and retouched to hide visible signs of ageing: ‘It’s like, ‘Give me back my age! I do have wrinkles! I don’t look like a 20-year-old’ (qtd. in Feinstein). However, Gainsbourg does admit that youth

in Charlotte Gainsbourg
Science, faith, the law, and the contested body and mind in The Frankenstein Chronicles and The Alienist
Wright Andrea

rights of the poor. He purports to find surgery, and more specifically, dissecting the dead, distasteful, and dismisses experimental techniques such as galvanism as fraudulent. His determination to disrupt the passing of the Bill, although veiled by outwardly benevolent intentions, is a self-serving attempt to secure his continued access to ‘patients’ for his research. But, despite Hervey being disassociated from respectable medicine

in Diagnosing history
African American physicians in television period dramas
Kevin McQueeney

medical prowess, explaining to Thackery a new medical procedure he has pioneered with equipment he created. Like Jedediah Foster in Mercy Street , this incident not only leads to an acceptance of Edwards – including allowing him to participate in surgeries – but a seeming overcoming of his racism. By the second season of The Knick , Thackery and Edwards have become allies, working together on a new experimental treatment

in Diagnosing history
Televised historical portrayals of women’s shifting roles in medicine
Fogel Jennifer M.
Sutherland Serenity

ruthlessly covet surgeries like the interns of Grey’s Anatomy (2005–) or deal with administrative blowback for performing a costly experimental surgery like on New Amsterdam (2018–), but viewers witness the constant barrage of disbelief and derision Claire earns from many of the men (and women) as she struggles throughout the centuries to assert her medical expertise. For example, season four finds Claire and Jamie installed in

in Diagnosing history
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Expendable Expendable?
Natasha Parcei

franchise is less about promoting later life itself, but rather presenting a ‘stretching of middle age’, where this term was first coined (in this context) by Jones’ ( 2008 ) scholarly work on cosmetic surgery. In displaying a continuation of the youthful action hero traits in its older protagonists it speaks of a ‘they’ve still got it’ representation of the ageing action hero. The

in Crank it up
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Byrne Katherine
Taddeo Julie Anne
, and
Leggott James

by vaccines, surgeries, and antibiotics, but the attractiveness of the leads and their romantic entanglements helps us to forget or forgive some of the less pleasant historical realities of the past under consideration. Although most of the series under discussion in this book were (and some still are) filmed in the last two decades, we have deliberately included in this section two ( Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and

in Diagnosing history
Gender, nostalgia, and the making of historical heroines
Aeleah Soine

deaconesses and nurse aides ( Charité , 2017, S1E1) So, viewers are not surprised when she attempts to intervene in the doctor’s planned appendectomy, pointing out that the invasive and still experimental procedure is unproven to be more effective than cold wraps, and predicting that surgery may kill the patient faster. Behring criticises the

in Diagnosing history
Formative years
Tony Whitehead

the war, the family lived above his surgery in the working-class area of Higher Broughton. The family was part of Manchester’s Jewish community:1 Abe’s parents had both emigrated from Russia, while Phyllis’s mother and father had come to London from, respectively, Germany and Lithuania. As a child, Leigh was a keen cinemagoer, experiencing a traditional diet of British and Hollywood features, newsreels, cartoons, serials and slapstick shorts. His more formal education took place at North Grecian Street County Primary and then Salford Grammar School. It was shortly

in Mike Leigh