Picturing Health and Illness: Images of Identity & Difference

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Ours is a culture riddled with preoccupations about health and disease. In this timely study Sander Gilman demonstrates how images of beauty and ugliness have constructed a visual history which records the artificial boundaries that continue to divide "healthy" bodies from ones that are ill. He shows how cultural fantasies of health and illness have come to be identified and defined by means of visual, aesthetic criteria - for the healthy is now seen as beautiful and the ill as ugly. The history of our perception...
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Overview

Ours is a culture riddled with preoccupations about health and disease. In this timely study Sander Gilman demonstrates how images of beauty and ugliness have constructed a visual history which records the artificial boundaries that continue to divide "healthy" bodies from ones that are ill. He shows how cultural fantasies of health and illness have come to be identified and defined by means of visual, aesthetic criteria - for the healthy is now seen as beautiful and the ill as ugly. The history of our perception of the "beautiful body," Gilman finds, is charged with anxieties about contagion and ugliness and, furthermore, entangled with political implications brought about by our interpretation of "race" as a medical category. Gilman looks at how nineteenth-century theorists collected medical and racial data from the shapes of noses, and at contemporary fears concerning syphilis, vividly personified in the diseased hero of Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera. He also scrutinizes Mark Twain's frank account of a visit to the Holy Land for signs of implicit prejudice about the health or illness of the resident Arabs and Jews. These concerns are brought up-to-date when the author turns to pathological case histories and recent AIDS posters issued by governments worldwide.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A study of visual sources, from 19th-century textbook illustrations to recent government AIDS posters, which finds that the history of our perception of the "beautiful body" is charged with anxieties about contagion and ugliness. It's also entangled with political implications brought about by our interpretation of race as a medical category, says Gilman (liberal arts and human biology, U. of Chicago). A history both of medicine and of the aestheticization of the body. Many b&w illustrations. Originally published in Great Britain by Reaktion Books as Health and Illness: Images of Difference. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801851971
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1965
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 0.79 (d)

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