Cleanliness : idea and practice in Britain, 1770-1850.
The thesis examines historical attitixles to cleanliness: why people
wanted to be 'clean'; and hz far they may have been so, in Britain
between c.1650-1850, and in detail between 1770-1850. The social and
nedical attitues of different groups were reconstrtxted fran the
popular nedical advice books known as 'regimens'; these were further
divided into two eighteenth and nineteenth century sanpies and
contextually analysed according to the different uses of the words
'clean', and ''.
It was found that there were three hygienic 'cleansing therapies'
associated with the action of 'cool' foods, water, and air; and it is
argued that between the seventeenth and eighteen centuries these
therapies developed f ran an idealistic 'noral physiology' into applied
sciences. By the end of the eighteenth century the mixed diet, fresh
air, and warm cosnetic bathing, were the axians of individual,
preventive, nedical hygiene. Direct references to cleanliness were set
within a rroral philosophy of religious and social virtues connected
with 'civility'; healthy civility praited an eighteenth century
edtxational novaient which proposed the reformation of public 'manners
and habits' according to hygienic principles.
The changing scientific interpretations of hygiene , and its
application to social and state policies is illustrated hy the
chronological caiparison between the two sanpies. It is argued that
the increased 'reportage' of health affairs in the nineteenth century
re-confirned indigenous traditions within the genre, and at the sane
tine strengthened the professional appropriation of 'rational
physiology' - and its orientation towards public health. Thischror1ogica1 franwork is to a certain extent xnfirmed by the
therapeutic and econczuic history of public bathing facilities,
culminating in one of the earliest pieces of nineteenth century
sanitary legislation, the Public Baths and Washhouses t of 1846. The
thesis anclx1es with a discussion of the functional and cultural
findings nost relevant to denographic history and to the history of