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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Now look, the picture shows" : the visualization of disordered eating in Victorian children’s literature Brocklebank, Lisa


This thesis explores the myriad ways in which the apparently unrelated discourses of medicine, fiction and photography intertwine in the depiction of disordered eating. It examines the medical literature of the physician William Withey Gull, who first diagnosed anorexia nervosa as a discrete disease in 1874, alongside select works of Victorian children's fiction. In analysing Gull's "Anorexia Nervosa (Apepsia Hysterica, Anorexia Hysterica)" (1874) and "Anorexia Nervosa" (1888), Mary De Morgan's "A Toy Princess" (1877), Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann's "The Story of Augustus Who Would Not Have Any Soup" (1845), Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" (1862) and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), the thesis considers how these texts make use of a photographic sensibility to visualize the oral consumer, the extent to which Gull's medical documents could have been influenced by previous fictional depictions of disordered eating and, finally, how a visual order informed by the photographic image in fact provided the necessary milieu for the emergence of modern forms of disordered eating.

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