female disfigurement from smallpox

Reactions to female disfigurement
from smallpox in texts from the
Eighteenth Century
with particular reference to the
response of Lady Mary Wortley
Child suffering from smallpox
The effects of smallpox
A Practical treatise on smallpox : illustrated by colored photographs from life
/ by George Henry Fox ; with the collaboration of S.D. Hubbard, S. Pollitzer,
and J.H. Huddleston.
Philadelphia : Lippincott, c1902
David Shuttleton
• existing accounts
“down-play the role of
the literary imagination
in the cultural framing”
of smallpox
(Smallpox and the Literary
Imagination 3)
• Approach similar to
Porter and Rousseau in
Gout, the Patrician
Malady (1998) where
they embrace the role
of the imagination in
rendering the
experience of disease
for the sufferer
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
• 1689-1762
• Suffered from smallpox
December 1715
• Accompanied her
ambassador husband to
• Brought smallpox
inoculation back to Britain
• Her work has increasingly
attracted attention it
deserves, particularly in
relation to gender studies
• Jennifer Keith: “[she]
delineates a woman’s
experience inside and
outside a poetic discourse
that has been associated
with the ‘masculine’ world
of the ‘Augustans’”
• Isobel Grundy: we need
“bolder thinking about the
working out of gender
issues” in relation to
Montagu and especially her
rift with Pope
Perception of smallpox
• ‘Menstruosity’ coined
by Tobias Walker 1616
• Fear that even hearing
about smallpox could
induce infection
• Mirrors were removed
from sufferers’ homes
to prevent them from
being frightened
• Its “disfiguring power”
epitomized the idea
that “all disease is
evidence of the Fall
which, according to
Genesis, stemmed from
the specifically female
‘Saturday. The Small-Pox. Flavia’
• Put into the “wider
context of other
imaginative works
presenting female
scarring as moral
• Identity created
through appearance
• Motif of mirror
• Rewards/prizes for
Other responses to female
• Mary Jones – ‘After the
Smallpox’ – commercial
• William Thompson –
‘Sickness, A Poem’ –
male survivors find
“Enamel’d, not
• The Devonshire Woman
– Frances Flood –
religious aspect
• LMWM is “slippery”
• Dramatizes vanity in
• Playful with genres
• Devastating in a
personal reading
• Idea of retribution?
• Explore responses to
• Used to save beauty not
lives? Henry Jones
Inoculation; or Beauty’s
• Inspired by traditional
female practice,
brought to England by
woman – transgressive
in many ways

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