Location

Panel 16: Kearney 314

Start Date

27-10-2012 10:15 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 11:45 AM

Description

Depictions of women and water during the Great Stink of London were bound up with moral and medical fears of the mid to late nineteenth century. Specifically, I will look at a paint by each of the following artists: Sir John Everett Millais, John Rodham Spencer Stanhope, and J.W. Waterhouse. The movement of respectable women into the public sphere meant that they became less controllable and also less distinguishable from disreputable women, specifically prostitutes. As a result there was a rising anxiety about the actions of women, which became shackled to fears of health and hygiene in relation to communicable diseases and their relationship to the degeneration of the soul. The popular and medical belief that maladies of the body infected the spirit and vice versa meant that the Victorians were extremely conscious about policing healthy behavior for the soul and body. Hygiene and public health were concerns of middle and upper class women when educating working-class women and advocating change in the city. The pollution of the public through the prostitutes was not the only concern of the time, the river Thames was also horribly contaminated by disease and human refuse. The conflation of prostitutes and the river was based in their danger to society that must be controlled and cleansed. Artists were immersed in this language of impurity and contagion and produced works that could be read through the lens of pollution.

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Oct 27th, 10:15 AM Oct 27th, 11:45 AM

The Pestilence of London: Women, Hygiene, Prostitution and Pollution

Panel 16: Kearney 314

Depictions of women and water during the Great Stink of London were bound up with moral and medical fears of the mid to late nineteenth century. Specifically, I will look at a paint by each of the following artists: Sir John Everett Millais, John Rodham Spencer Stanhope, and J.W. Waterhouse. The movement of respectable women into the public sphere meant that they became less controllable and also less distinguishable from disreputable women, specifically prostitutes. As a result there was a rising anxiety about the actions of women, which became shackled to fears of health and hygiene in relation to communicable diseases and their relationship to the degeneration of the soul. The popular and medical belief that maladies of the body infected the spirit and vice versa meant that the Victorians were extremely conscious about policing healthy behavior for the soul and body. Hygiene and public health were concerns of middle and upper class women when educating working-class women and advocating change in the city. The pollution of the public through the prostitutes was not the only concern of the time, the river Thames was also horribly contaminated by disease and human refuse. The conflation of prostitutes and the river was based in their danger to society that must be controlled and cleansed. Artists were immersed in this language of impurity and contagion and produced works that could be read through the lens of pollution.