Eyecare and Eyewear in Literary and Cultural History, c. 1890-1950
This project investigates eyesight across the late-Victorian to modern period, focusing on the lived-experience of using vision correction devices and having lower than average vision, the changing cultural and societal perceptions of glasses-wearers and those with ‘poor’ eyesight, and the ways in which eye conditions were regarded and treated by optical professionals. My methodology includes a mixture of close reading – of literary texts and other cultural artefacts, such as films and museum objects – as well as historical study and theory-informed analysis. The goal of this project is to better understand the complex interrelations between bodily difference, medical intervention, societal prejudice, self-image, fashion, vision and thought, through the lens (pun very much intended) of eyecare and eyewear.
I gave a talk relating to this project at the Modernism, Medicine and the Embodied Mind conference at the University of Bristol, on 15 July 2016. You can listen to a podcast of my talk, ‘”Frozen in Stereoscope”: Embodied Perception and Visual Impairment in the Work of James Joyce’, here.