Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture

Spectacle of Deformity Freak Shows and Modern British Culture In during the great age of the freak show the British periodical Punch bemoaned the public s prevailing taste for deformity This vividly detailed work argues that far from being purely exploita

  • Title: Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture
  • Author: Nadja Durbach
  • ISBN: 9780520257689
  • Page: 120
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In 1847, during the great age of the freak show, the British periodical Punch bemoaned the public s prevailing taste for deformity This vividly detailed work argues that far from being purely exploitative, displays of anomalous bodies served a deeper social purpose as they generated popular and scientific debates over the meanings attached to bodily difference Nadja DuIn 1847, during the great age of the freak show, the British periodical Punch bemoaned the public s prevailing taste for deformity This vividly detailed work argues that far from being purely exploitative, displays of anomalous bodies served a deeper social purpose as they generated popular and scientific debates over the meanings attached to bodily difference Nadja Durbach examines freaks both well known and obscure including the Elephant Man Lalloo, the Double Bodied Hindoo Boy, a set of conjoined twins advertised as half male, half female Krao, a seven year old hairy Laotian girl who was marketed as Darwin s missing link the Last of the Mysterious Aztecs and African Cannibal Kings, who were often merely Irishmen in blackface Upending our tendency to read late twentieth century conceptions of disability onto the bodies of freak show performers, Durbach shows that these spectacles helped to articulate the cultural meanings invested in otherness and thus clarified what it meant to be British at a key moment in the making of modern and imperial ideologies and identities.

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      Published :2019-04-18T19:36:17+00:00

    One thought on “Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture”

    1. A very scholarly book that chronicles Freak shows in Victorian and Edwardian England. I enjoyed reading about the history of some of the freaks of nature--Elephant Man, Laloo and Lala, etc. It was an accepted entertainment and honorable way to entertain and earn money. Think of Son of Frankenstein--the tap dance number--the freaks entertained by showing off talents, speaking and educating the public. Actually they had a pretty good gig until doctors got a hold of them. Queen Victoria and medical [...]

    2. I enjoyed this one. Going beyond the simplistic story that freak shows were purely exploitive and argues that they were a place where 19th century Britons had debates about gender, nationality, class among other things. For example, one version of the elephant man was that he needed the help of a doctor to save him from the side shows. On the other hand, some people view him as a working class man with pride, selling his deformity to the crowd because he couldn't sell anything else.Anyone who li [...]

    3. This is pretty interesting so far. I heard an interview with the author on the radio and thought it sounded interesting. It's all about British freak shows in the 1900's. Who knows.

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