The Body and Pseudoscience in the Long Nineteenth Century Conference

Interdisciplinary Conference at Newcastle University 18 June 2016


Further information about the conference and the CfP can be found here.



Edith Nesbit’s Dreadful Researches

The next meeting of the Pseudo/Sciences Research Group will be on Wednesday 28 October 2015 at 6.00 pm – 7.30 pm in the Loftus Room at the Lit and Phil Library, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Dr. Emily Alder, Edinburgh Napier University, will introduce this session on ‘Edith Nesbit’s Dreadful Researches’

Edith Nesbit is best known for her children’s stories (Five Children and It, The Railway Children), but also wrote a number of supernatural and horror stories. We will read two of these, ‘The Three Drugs’ (1908) and ‘The Five Senses’ (1909), which explore ‘dreadful researches which tend to merge the chemist and biologist in the alchemist and magician’ (‘Five Senses’). Ambitious scientists seek access to new and dangerous knowledge through chemical self-experimentation, with terrible results. Theoretically perfect, their experiments are hampered by the fallibility of human bodies and minds. We will also consider how the instrumental role of a medium’s body in the seance is translated into a laboratory setting, and related questions of how laboratories and seances worked to construct gender identities.

The two short stories and an accompanying paper by Keir Waddington, ‘More Like Cooking than Science: Narrating the Inside of the British Medical Laboratory, 1880-1914’, can be downloaded here.

Five Senses

Three Drugs


Please come along to what promises to be a very interesting and stimulating session.

Everyone welcome, wine and nibbles available.

Any queries? Please contact Pat Beesley at