As this is the first project blog, I thought I’d begin by saying ‘welcome’ to the project – I hope you’ll feel able to join in our discussions in some way, whether through the website, or at our various workshops and conferences. The second thing I’d like to do is to talk about where I got the idea of fashionable diseases, and what on earth that idea might mean.
The title’s easy enough – I work in eighteenth-century literary and cultural studies, and in 2003 I included, in an anthology of literature and science, a piece by a physician called James Makittrick Adair (1728–1801). His essay, first published in 1786, is called ‘on fashionable disease’. At first it was published as part of a collection called Medical Cautions, for the Consideration of Invalids; those especially who resort to Bath, but later reprinted many times and even published as a freestanding volume. It’s obviously a catchy title, and had certainly caught my eye enough to want to publish it, not least because Adair was a popular high society doctor working at the fashionable resort of Bath, and had a lively style calculated to appeal to a general audience. Many medical texts in …read more