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Inventing the Cave ManFrom Darwin to the Flintstones$
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Andrew Horrall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113849

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113849.001.0001

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Mass culture: the Victorian world picture

Mass culture: the Victorian world picture

(p.10) 1 Mass culture: the Victorian world picture
Inventing the Cave Man

Andrew Horrall

Manchester University Press

This chapter explores aspects of nineteenth-century popular culture that contributed to the emergence of the cave man character. References are made to previous works from history, cultural and literary studies and the history of science. These show how long-standing ideas about the earth’s history were challenged by geological, archaeological and paleontological evidence of ancient and extinct mammals, dinosaurs and hominids. Elite ideas were popularised for a mass public by scientists themselves, and through evolutionary freak shows that exploited scientific controversies for profit. Increasingly, scientific ideas were generalised and disseminated by mass-market, heavily illustrated books and magazines. A new style of comic magazine introduced ‘cartoons’ which poked gentle fun at current sensations, as did an emerging entertainment industry centred on music hall, pantomime and other forms of popular theatre. New steam-powered transportation meant that books, magazines and performers travelled farther and faster than ever before. Britain was the hub of this new mass culture, both spreading and receiving ideas through a continuous, reciprocal dialogue with the emerging empire and America.

Keywords:   apes, cartoons, dinosaurs, freak shows, humbug, mammoths, music hall, Phineas Taylor ‘P.T.’ Barnum, popular culture, popularisation of science, publishing, Punch magazine

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