Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain by Marlene TrompVictorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain by Marlene Tromp

Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain

EditorMarlene Tromp

Hardcover | April 8, 2008

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While “freaks” have captivated our imagination since well before the nineteenth century, the Victorians flocked to shows featuring dancing dwarves, bearded ladies, “missing links,” and six-legged sheep. Indeed, this period has been described by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson as the epoch of “consolidation” for freakery: an era of social change, enormously popular freak shows, and taxonomic frenzy. Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain, edited by Marlene Tromp, turns to that rich nexus, examining the struggle over definitions of “freakery” and the unstable and sometimes conflicting ways in which freakery was understood and deployed. As the first study centralizing British culture, this collection discusses figures as varied as Joseph Merrick, “The Elephant Man”; Daniel Lambert, “King of the Fat Men”; Julia Pastrana, “The Bear Woman”; and Laloo “The Marvellous Indian Boy” and his embedded, parasitic twin. The Victorian Freaks contributors examine Victorian culture through the lens of freakery, reading the production of the freak against the landscape of capitalist consumption, the medical community, and the politics of empire, sexuality, and art. Collectively, these essays ask how freakery engaged with notions of normalcy and with its Victorian cultural context.


Marlene Tromp is John and Christine Warner Professor of English and Director of Women's Studies at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.
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Title:Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in BritainFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:April 8, 2008Publisher:Ohio State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0814210864

ISBN - 13:9780814210864

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Editorial Reviews

Victorian Freaks is particularly noteworthy for its often-nuanced analysis of freakery. The figure of the freak is represented not simply as a victim of cultural prejudices, but as an agent who actively negotiates a version of subjectivity through the performance and manipulation of cultural codes regarding deviance and normalcy.” —Tamar Heller, author of Dead Secrets: Wilkie Collins and the Female Gothic