Shocking Bodies: Life, Death & Electricity in Victorian England

Research output: Book/ReportBook


For the Victorians, electricity was the science of spectacle and of wonder. It provided them with new ways of probing the nature of reality and understanding themselves. Luigi Galvani’s discovery of ‘animal electricity’ at the end of the eighteenth century opened up a whole new world of possibilities, in which electricity could cure sickness, restore sexual potency and even raise the dead. In Shocking Bodies, Iwan Rhys Morus explores how the Victorians thought about electricity, and how they tried to use its intimate and corporeal force to answer fundamental questions about life and death. Some even believed that electricity was life, which brought into question the existence of the soul, and of God, and provided arguments in favour of political radicalism. This is the story of how electricity emerged as a powerful new tool for making sense of our bodies and the world around us.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe History Press
Number of pages224
ISBN (Print)9780752458007
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2011


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