Learn about the history of beauty and disease at this author talk

NORFOLK — The Slover Library will be hosting an author talk and book signing with Carolyn Day, author of “Consumptive Chic.”

The free event will be on Nov. 18 from 2-4 p.m. Register here. 

Day will discuss the history of beauty and disease that her book covers.

There will be books available for purchase and signature as well as a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres.

The book is an exploration of contemporary social trends and medical advice revealed in medical writing, literature and personal papers, according to a news release from the city.

“Consumptive Chic” uncovers the intimate relationship between fashionable women’s clothing and medical understandings of the illness.

Illustrated with more than 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,’ according to the news release.

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 the fashionable way of life of many women actually rendered them susceptible to the disease, Day investigates the deliberate and widespread flouting of admonitions against these fashion practices in the pursuit of beauty.

Day is assistant professor at Furman University where she teaches British history and the History of Medicine.

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