Science in Mid-Victorian Punch
University of Exeter. At the time of publication, the author was at the University of Cambridge
This article examines the scientific content of the most famous comic journal of the Victorian period: Punch. Concentrating on the first three decades of the periodical (1841–1871), I show that Punch usually engaged with science that was highly topical, of consequence to the lives of its bourgeois readers, and suitable for comic interpretation. But Punch's satire of scientific topics was highly complex. It often contained allusions to non-scientific topics, and its engagement with science ranged from the utterly comic to the sharply critical. Punch prompted readers to think as well as laugh about science, and probably shaped their scientific education more than we think.