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Spectacle of DeformityFreak Shows and Modern British Culture$
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Nadja Durbach

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257689

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257689.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use (for details see http://california.universitypressscholarship.com/page/535/privacy-policy-and-legal-notice).date: 20 August 2018

Conclusion: The Decline of the Freak Show

Conclusion: The Decline of the Freak Show

Chapter:
(p.171) Conclusion: The Decline of the Freak Show
Source:
Spectacle of Deformity
Author(s):

Nadja Durbach

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520257689.003.0007

This chapter discusses the decline of the freak show, which began in the second decade of the twentieth century. Although many show shops, seaside resorts, and freak museums continued to flourish until well after the Second World War, the end of the Edwardian period was also the end of an era for human oddities. By the late twentieth century the British public had deemed the exhibition of human anomalies inappropriate, indecent, and indefensible. When referred to at all in late twentieth- and early twenty-first century discourse, the freak show has been widely condemned as a product of “the worst traditions of Victorian ghoulishness,” an institution that inhabited “the backwaters of civilisation in the nineteenth century.”

Keywords:   Britain, freak show, Victorian period, British public

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