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The Victorians: Life and Death (lecture)
Free public lecture by Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA. From Gresham College. Available as video, audio, transcript and PowerPoint presentation.
The nineteenth century, above all in Europe, was the age of the 'demographic transition', from high birth and death-rates to low ones; people's health improved, they lived longer, the devastating visitations of epidemics like smallpox, typhoid and cholera gradually disappeared. This lecture explores the reasons for this change, and looks at its effects on culture and society, attitudes towards death and suffering, disease, debilitation and at the end of the century, degeneracy and the Darwinian struggle for survival.
This lecture is part of the series The Victorians: Culture and Experience in Britain, Europe and the World 1815-1914
This course of lectures looks at the Victorians not just in Britain but in Europe and the wider world. 'Victorian' has come to stand for a particular set of values, perceptions and experiences, many of which were shared by people in a variety of different countries, from Russia to America, Spain to Scandinavia and reflected in the literature and culture of the nineteenth century, up to the outbreak of the First World War. The focus of the lectures will be on identifying and analysing six key areas of the Victorian experience, looking at them in international perspective. The lectures will be illustrated and the visual material will form a key element in the presentations. Throughout the series, we will be asking how far, in an age of growing nationalism and class conflict, the experiences of the Victorian era were common to different classes and countries across Europe and how far the political dominance of Britain, the world superpower of the day, was reflected in the spread of British culture and values to other parts of the world. The other lectures in this series include the following:
Time and Space
Art and Culture
Religion and Science
Gender and Sexuality
Empire and Race