New Book | Consumptive Chic

Posted in books by internjmb on October 8, 2017

From Bloomsbury Academic:

Carolyn Day, Consumptive Chic: A History of Beauty, Fashion, and Disease (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), 208 pages, ISBN: 978  135000  9387 (hardcover), $94 / ISBN: 978  135000  9370 (paperback), $32.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there was a tubercular ‘moment’ in which perceptions of the consumptive disease became inextricably tied to contemporary concepts of beauty, playing out in the clothing fashions of the day. With the ravages of the illness widely regarded as conferring beauty on the sufferer, it became commonplace to regard tuberculosis as a positive affliction, one to be emulated in both beauty practices and dress. While medical writers of the time believed that the fashionable way of life of many women actually rendered them susceptible to the disease, Carolyn Day investigates the deliberate and widespread flouting of admonitions against these fashion practices in the pursuit of beauty.

Through an exploration of contemporary social trends and medical advice revealed in medical writing, literature, and personal papers, Consumptive Chic uncovers the intimate relationship between fashionable women’s clothing and medical understandings of the illness. Illustrated with over 40 full color fashion plates, caricatures, medical images, and photographs of original garments, this is a compelling story of the intimate relationship between the body, beauty, and disease—and the rise of ‘tubercular chic’.

Carolyn A. Day is Assistant Professor at Furman University where she teaches British History and the History of Medicine. She received a BA in History and a BSc in Microbiology from Louisiana State University, an MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University, and a PhD from Tulane University in British history.


1  The Approach to Illness
2  The Curious Case of Consumption: A Family Affair
3  Exciting Consumption: The Causes and Culture of an Illness
4  Morality, Mortality, and Romanticizing Death
5  The Angel of Death in the Household
6  Tragedy and Tuberculosis: The Siddons Story
7  Dying to Be Beautiful: The Consumptive Chic
8  The Agony of Conceit: Clothing and Consumption
Epilogue: The End of Consumptive Chic






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