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Itch, Clap, PoxVenereal Disease in the Eighteenth-Century Imagination$
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Noelle Gallagher

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300217056

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300217056.001.0001

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A Chapter of Noses

A Chapter of Noses

(p.159) Chapter 4 A Chapter of Noses
Itch, Clap, Pox

Noelle Gallagher

Yale University Press

This chapter considers the persistent association between nasal deformity and venereal disease. It argues that this one symptom—and, more broadly, this one body part—came to assume a powerful metonymic significance, standing in for both the disease and the wider social dangers it could represent. Put simply, the deformed nose allowed the boundary between diseased and healthy to run parallel to the boundaries between classes, races, and species—boundaries that seemed to some, much like a syphilitic's nose, in imminent danger of collapse. By comparing the flattened noses of those with venereal disease to the “deformed” noses of animals and certain ethnic groups, Restoration and eighteenth-century writers and artists were able to explore broader cultural anxieties about the biological integrity of the white race and the human species.

Keywords:   venereal disease, nasal deformity, deformed nose, Restoration, biological integrity, white race

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