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Reactions to female disfigurement from smallpox in texts from the Eighteenth Century with particular reference to the response of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

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Presentation on theme: "Reactions to female disfigurement from smallpox in texts from the Eighteenth Century with particular reference to the response of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reactions to female disfigurement from smallpox in texts from the Eighteenth Century with particular reference to the response of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

2 Child suffering from smallpox

3 The effects of smallpox A Practical treatise on smallpox : illustrated by colored photographs from life / by George Henry Fox ; with the collaboration of S.D. Hubbard, S. Pollitzer, and J.H. Huddleston. Philadelphia : Lippincott, c1902

4 David Shuttleton existing accounts down-play the role of the literary imagination in the cultural framing of smallpox (Smallpox and the Literary Imagination 3) Approach similar to Porter and Rousseau in Gout, the Patrician Malady (1998) where they embrace the role of the imagination in rendering the experience of disease for the sufferer

5 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu Suffered from smallpox December 1715 Accompanied her ambassador husband to Turkey Brought smallpox inoculation back to Britain Her work has increasingly attracted attention it deserves, particularly in relation to gender studies Jennifer Keith: [she] delineates a womans experience inside and outside a poetic discourse that has been associated with the masculine world of the Augustans Isobel Grundy: we need bolder thinking about the working out of gender issues in relation to Montagu and especially her rift with Pope

6 Perception of smallpox Menstruosity coined by Tobias Walker 1616 Fear that even hearing about smallpox could induce infection Mirrors were removed from sufferers homes to prevent them from being frightened Its disfiguring power epitomized the idea that all disease is evidence of the Fall which, according to Genesis, stemmed from the specifically female transgression (Shuttleton)

7 Saturday. The Small-Pox. Flavia Put into the wider context of other imaginative works presenting female scarring as moral retribution (Shuttleton) Identity created through appearance Motif of mirror Rewards/prizes for beauty

8 Other responses to female disfigurement Mary Jones – After the Smallpox – commercial discourse William Thompson – Sickness, A Poem – male survivors find transcendence: Enameld, not deformd The Devonshire Woman – Frances Flood – religious aspect

9 Conclusions LMWM is slippery (Grundy) Dramatizes vanity in Saturday Playful with genres Devastating in a personal reading Idea of retribution? Explore responses to inoculation Used to save beauty not lives? Henry Jones Inoculation; or Beautys Triumph Inspired by traditional female practice, brought to England by woman – transgressive in many ways


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