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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The eighteenth century is often seen as a time when disability became increasingly marginalized in visual culture. However, a glimpse beyond the classical tastes of “high” art reveals not a disappearance but a flourishing of representations of physical and sensory difference. Eighteenth-century popular art and satirical prints examined the disabled body not just as a symbol of misfortune or target for medical intervention, but also as a source of pleasure or an object of satire that conveyed wider messages about the times. A rich and varied range of pictorial representations of disability in the long eighteenth century (ca. 1680–ca. 1830) contributed to social, cultural, and medical understandings of bodily difference in English culture. People with disabilities played important roles as artists, models, and critics in an era before modern “disability arts.”

Keywords: disability, art, prints, eighteenth century, English culture, representation

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