AHRC Studentship - Correcting vision in nineteenth century England

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: School of Arts and Humanities

Abstract

Ophthalmology has a special status in the history of medicine as the first modern medical specialty to achieve respectability. During the nineteenth century, the study of the eye and its defects was socially, culturally and economically important. Spectacles and other corrective eyewear proliferated in this period, but have received very little scholarly attention, especially regarding the experiences of those who wore them. Using the largely unexplored ophthalmology collections at the Science Museum, this project explores the social, cultural, material and medical history of spectacles, in the process broadening historical understanding of visual impairment and disability in this period.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Blog Post for the Effaced From History project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I provided a blog post for the Effaced From History project that looked at both the stigma and fashion that surrounded the user of spectacles in the nineteenth century.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://effacedblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/a-spectacle-of-the-face-eyewear-in-the-nineteenth-centu...
 
Description Public Presentation at the Being Human Event in Swansea 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a public talk as part of the Being Human event to explore the association between vision aids and facial beauty or disfigurement. I did a couple of activities, as well as a presentation, to help the audience question how they felt about wearing spectacles or seeing them on someone's face, and the benefits that today's spectacle users have found. This then led into a talk on perceptions and experiences of nineteenth century spectacle users in order for us to question as a group how or whether things had changed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public Presentation at the College of Optometry Open House Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave three 10 minute presentations to visitors at the College of Optometry Open House Event on the history of spectacles - each talk had around 30 audience members and we discussed a number of areas relating to my project. These included who wore spectacles, what was society's perceptions of them, and how accessible were they. I also engaged with some of the optometrists working at the College who were interested in the general history of the correction of vision.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017