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Spectacle of Deformity – Freak Shows and Modern British Culture - California Scholarship Online
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Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture

Nadja Durbach


In 1847, during the great age of the freak show, the British periodical Punch bemoaned the public's “prevailing taste for deformity.” This detailed work argues that far from being purely exploitative, displays of anomalous bodies served a deeper social purpose as they generated popular and scientific debates over the meanings attached to bodily difference. The book examines freaks both well-known and obscure including the Elephant Man; “Lalloo, the Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy,” a set of conjoined twins advertised as half male, half female; Krao, a seven-year-old hairy Laotian girl who was markete ... More

Keywords: freak shows, Punch, deformity, Elephant Man, Lalloo, conjoined twins, Krao, Cannibal Kings, disability, otherness

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2009 Print ISBN-13: 9780520257689
Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012 DOI:10.1525/california/9780520257689.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Nadja Durbach, author