Soaking up the rays
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Reviews
Soaking up the rays is the first book to investigate light therapy's earliest developments in Britain through its visual and material cultures, c.1890-1940. Used to treat tuberculosis, rickets, numerous infections, and skin diseases, light therapy emerged internationally in the 1890s at the forefront of modern medicine. By the 1920s it was a leading treatment amongst the medical community and the public, thanks in no small part to its visual representation. Woloshyn approaches archival photographs, illustrated medical texts, advertisements, lamps, and goggles as entry points into Britain's history of using light, whether natural (heliotherapy) or artificial (phototherapy), in the fight against disease and 'sun-starvation.' These images and objects actively contributed to light therapy's definition and, above all, represented in visual form how light was conceptualised to act upon the body - but rarely in clear or simple ways. Overexposed and heavily retouched photographs, colour pamphlets of suntanned bodies verging on the radioactive, and Art Deco advertisements of ultraviolet lamps' penetrating rays complicate an easy telling of the therapy's acceptance and appeal. Bodily exposure to light, whether for therapeutic or aesthetic ends, persists as a contested subject to this day. Soaking up the rays repositions light therapy as a medical practice contentious, unstable and messy from its very inception. It forges a new path for exploring the British (medical, social, and individual) body's fickle love of the light. It will appeal to those intrigued by medicine's visual culture, especially academics and students of the histories of art and visual culture, material cultures, medicine, science and technology, and popular culture.
Endorsements
Soaking up the rays is the first book to investigate light therapy's earliest developments in Britain through its visual and material cultures, c.1890-1940. Used to treat tuberculosis, rickets, numerous infections, and skin diseases, light therapy emerged internationally in the 1890s at the forefront of modern medicine. By the 1920s it was a leading treatment amongst the medical community and the public, thanks in no small part to its visual representation. Woloshyn approaches archival photographs, illustrated medical texts, advertisements, lamps, and goggles as entry points into Britain's history of using light, whether natural (heliotherapy) or artificial (phototherapy), in the fight against disease and 'sun-starvation.' These images and objects actively contributed to light therapy's definition and, above all, represented in visual form how light was conceptualised to act upon the body - but rarely in clear or simple ways. Overexposed and heavily retouched photographs, colour pamphlets of suntanned bodies verging on the radioactive, and Art Deco advertisements of ultraviolet lamps' penetrating rays complicate an easy telling of the therapy's acceptance and appeal. Bodily exposure to light, whether for therapeutic or aesthetic ends, persists as a contested subject to this day. Soaking up the rays repositions light therapy as a medical practice contentious, unstable and messy from its very inception. It forges a new path for exploring the British (medical, social, and individual) body's fickle love of the light. It will appeal to those intrigued by medicine's visual culture, especially academics and students of the histories of art and visual culture, material cultures, medicine, science and technology, and popular culture.

Soaking up the rays

Light therapy and visual culture in Britain, c. 1890–1940

Tania Woloshyn

Description
Soaking up the rays forges a new path for exploring Britain's fickle love of the light by investigating the beginnings of light therapy in the country from c.1890-1940. Despite rapidly becoming a leading treatment for tuberculosis, rickets and other infections and skin diseases, light therapy was a contentious medical practice. Bodily exposure to light, whether for therapeutic or aesthetic ends, persists as a contested subject to this day: recommended to counter skin conditions as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression; closely linked to notions of beauty, happiness and well-being, fuelling tourism abroad and the tanning industry at home; and yet with repeated health warnings that it is a dangerous carcinogen. By analysing archival photographs, illustrated medical texts, advertisements, lamps, and goggles and their visual representation of how light acted upon the body, Woloshyn assesses their complicated contribution to the founding of light therapy.
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Bibliographic Information
Publish State
Published
Language
English
Readership
General/trade; College/higher education; Professional and scholarly
Publisher / Imprint
Manchester University Press
Publication Country / Place
United Kingdom / Manchester
Title Identifier (ISBN/ISSN)
9781784995126 / 1784995126
Published Date
January 2017
Primary Price
34.95 USD
Dimensions
234 X 156
Reference Code
6956