In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Victorian Exhibitionism and Eugenics: The Case of Francis Galton and the 1899 Crystal Palace Dog Show Cynthia Fluff We need to know far more about how science was popularised during the Victorian period in magazines, journals, textbooks, children's literature, encyclopaedias, and newspapers, and we need to go beyond the written word to popular lectures, museums, fairs, and exhibitions. —Bernard Lightman Scene 1: It is just before Christmas, 1799, Smithfield. The Smithfield Society holds its first exhibition of immense oxen, taken mostly from the stock of the noblemen and gentlemen who comprised the officers of the Society. According to one witness, the exhibition "did great credit to the exhibiting graziers, and great honour to the largest market in the world." The prize ox was sold for 200 pounds. (Ritvo, AnimalEstate 50-51). Scene 2: Manchester, 27 December 1837. The Manchester Mechanics ' Institution holds its first Bazaar and exhibition. Exhibits included experiments and instruments in hydrodynamics, electricity, and chemistry , and exhibits of steam engines and other machinery, much of it miniaturised models, along with specimens of minerals, fossils, crystals , and plants. Also present at the Bazaar was the "Happy Family," an exhibit of almost 200 different species of animals. (Findling xvi; Hudson 126; Hole 78-79, 174-77). Scene 3: 1859: Newcastle-on-Tyne. The first modern dog show boasts an entry of 60 pointers and setters. Sponsor W R. Pape, a gun-maker, offers shotguns for first place. Fourteen years later, the winners of the 1859 show appear in the first StudBook of the Kennel Victorian Review (2002) C. Huff Club, thereby linking winning at the exhibition with pedigree and breeding (O'Neill 5-6). Scene 4: It is October 18, 1999. In the Crystal Palace exhibition hall in Sydenham, South London, a now-established annual Crystal Palace Dog Show takes place. In one corner of the building stands a camera on a tripod and a curious podium and backdrop, marked in chalk measurements. Eugenicist Francis Galton supervises eagerly as some of the dogs exhibited have their "Standard Photographs" taken. Scene 5: 101 years later, in New York City, the 125th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opens in Madison Square Garden, with television cameras and celebrities present. On the day following the show, the Dog Fanciers Club hosts a symposium at Sardi's, where attendants hear papers on "The Genomics Revolution: A Rosetta Stone for Biomedical Research" and "Canine DNA Identification and Parentage Testing" (Westminster Kennel Club, Catalog*)). The sweep of these scenes is broad — covering over two centuries and crossing the Atlantic — but I open with them to illustrate the development of a cultural event which is the focus of this article. British exhibitions, which matured during the Victorian period into something like our modern extravaganzas, began as simple market events but soon added the dimensions of entertainment (or showmanship ) and, most importantly, the popularisation of scientific and technical ideas, especially concepts of biology and husbandry. The 1899 Crystal Palace Dog Show, and eugenicist Francis Galton's role in it, illustrates how scientists and popularises took advantage of the spectacle of exhibitions to woo the British public and, in Galton's case, to both gather data and promote his eugenics agenda. There is not a great deal written about the popularisation of science in Victorian Britain. As a number of scholars have noted, what attention has been paid to scientific popularisation has been largely limited to written texts. Popularisations, writes Barbara T Gates, "are not illegitimate sources of scientific knowledge but legitimate aspects of cultural knowledge . . . (180). Gates, Bernard Lightman, Roger Cooter and Stephen Pumfrey all make the point that scholars need "to move volume 28 number 2 Victorian Exhibitionism and Eugenics away from the idealist and textual products of authorised science and be more open to 'a greater plurality of signifiers of scientific activity,' such as museums, world fairs, photography, and natural history" (Lightman, "Popularizing Victorian Science" 190). A few of the textual popularisera of Victorian science are well known — in particular, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Tyndall, and Alfred Rüssel Wallace. As Lightman observes, however, these three, along with Francis Galton, were all elite intellectuals, self-proclaimed and independent scientists, who tried to popularise their own...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 1-20
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.