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Darwin Correspondence Project

Exercise: Caricatures of Science


A peacock
A peacock
Kristine Deppe

[Images to Redo]

Discussion Questions | Images

Caricatures provide intriguing insights into both ideals and transgressions of gender. The following six images show caricatured representations of nineteenth-century men and women of science. They provide insight into the boundaries of what was deemed 'acceptable' behaviour for nineteenth-century men and women and encourage us to think about the complex ways in which gender ideals were - and still are - circulated and policed. The images also highlight the complexity of the gendered status of science which, at different points in time and space, was coded as a pursuit that was at once masculine and feminine, masculinising and femininising.

Associated selected readings.

Discussion Questions

1. Why were images like these produced, and how might they have been used?
2. What can we learn from these images about the relative constraints placed on men and women's scientific participation in the nineteenth century?
3. What do the images tell us about the gendering of intellect in the nineteenth century?
4. What do the images (and the people featured in them) tell us about the relationship between gender ideology and the lived experiences of nineteenth-century men and women?



[caption id="attachment_803296" align="aligncenter" width="500"]"Jacob & 'Becca or women's rights". Copyright © Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives). GB127.Broadsides/FND.584 "Jacob & 'Becca or women's rights". Copyright © Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives). GB127.Broadsides/FND.584[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_763881" align="aligncenter" width="172"] A Lady of Scientific Habits[/caption]


A Lady of Scientific Habits (early nineteenth century)

Composite caricature of 'A Lady of Scientific Habits’, by KORA. Reproduced with the permission of the owner.


[caption id="attachment_763878" align="aligncenter" width="185"] The Entomologist (1830)[/caption]


The Entomologist (1830)

Composite caricature of a male entomologist, by G. Spratt. Lithographed by G. E. Madeley and published by Charles Tilt (1830). Reproduced with the permission of the owner.


[caption id="attachment_763943" align="aligncenter" width="191"] Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1873)[/caption]



Elizabeth Garret Anderson (1873)

Caricature of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson from F. Waddy, Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day, (1873).


[caption id="attachment_800567" align="aligncenter" width="203"]Lydia Becker, 10086446, Copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library / The Women's Library@LSE Lydia Becker, Copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library / The Women's Library@LSE[/caption]



Lydia Becker (1877)

Caricature of Lydia Becker from Comus, No. 4, (October 28th, 1877)

“Women who distinguish themselves exhibit traits in their character which have gained for them the status of “masculine women”. You have only to glance at the portrait…to see at once that Miss Becker exhibits in her face and features all those distinguishing parts which being to the countenance of man. We cannot help thinking that if Miss Becker had been called to a life of domesticity and maternity she would have felt that woman has a far higher and holier mission in life, in increasing the comforts of home, in nurturing and training her offspring and in all the duties prompted by wifely affection which renders the arduous work of the breadwinner lighter and more pleasant”.


[caption id="attachment_763809" align="aligncenter" width="206"] Clémence Royer (1881)[/caption]



Clémence Royer (1881)

Caricature of Clémence Royer from Les Hommes D’Aujord’Hui, 44:170 (1881). Royer is shown reading a copy of her new book, Le Bien et la Loi Morale.


[caption id="attachment_763905" align="aligncenter" width="203"] Caricature of John Lubbock (1882)[/caption]




Sir John Lubbock (1882)

Caricature of John Lubbock from Punch’s Fancy Portraits, (19th August, 1882).


Darwin and Gender University Modules

Introduction: Darwin and Gender

Women and Science

Sex and Scientific Participation

The Gendered Status of Science

Additional Theme Resources

Exercise: Referencing Women’s Work

Harvard Project: Gender and Scientific Work

Keeping it in the Family blog post

Darwin’s Workforce exhibit

Darwin, sons and masculinity blog post

Clémence Royer blog post

Other Gender Resources

Darwin and Gender: The Blog

Top 10 Gender Letters

Darwin Behind the Scenes online exhibition

Audio of selected Gender letters

A complete list of Darwin’s women correspondents

Audio interview with Tina Gianquitto (on Mary Treat)

Darwin’s Notes on Marriage

Jane Gray’s account of Down

Henrietta Darwin’s diary