Pox and Prejudice is a blog investigating the emotional history of the pox (syphilis) in eighteenth-century Britain. It asks how contemporaries reacted to victims of the disease, and how victims perceived themselves. These are questions that are addressed through an exploration of the texts in the University of Glasgow Library’s Special Collections, and particularly those in its exceptional Syphilis Collection. This amazing collection contains 242 texts published between 1496 and 1820, most of which were written by medical practitioners.
This project also looks at the skulls of syphilis victims collected by William Hunter and now housed in the collections of the Hunterian Museum. The Hunterian’s anatomical collections are vast and varied, but why do they include the syphilis skulls? Were these simply objects used in medical teaching? Or were they also objects of fascination that evoked an emotional response in their viewers?
This blog is composed of a series of posts investigating the different emotions (fear, sympathy, shame, etc.) that surrounded the pox during the eighteenth century, asking why society and victims experienced these particular reactions. During the period August 2016 – April 2017 there were a number of talks and events associated with the project, the details of these are still available on the events page.
This project is part of the Hunterian Associates Programme.