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Title: 'It is virtue and goodness only, that make the true beauty' : understanding female beauty in the eighteenth century
Author: Aske, Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 7252
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis addresses how female beauty was understood in the eighteenth century and aims to build on and expand the existing scholarship from Robert Jones, Tita Chico, Tassie Gwilliam, G. J. Barker-Benfield and Naomi Baker, amongst others. Each of these scholars has discussed various areas of beauty, including taste, cosmetics, sensibility, gender and, for Baker, the opposite to beauty, ugliness. Building on these areas of study, this thesis will address the concept of beauty in both its physical and moral sense. That is, the connection of the beautiful body with the ideas or associations it has come to signify. For example, the beautiful female body usually informs readings of virtue, morality, goodness, but, in some cases, beauty can be read as wantonness, immorality and foolishness. In order to navigate these contradictory associations, the thesis has been split into category chapters and divided into two parts. The first part will examine beauty's physiognomic origins, its role in aesthetic philosophy, and its artistic expression. In the second part, with a more literary focus, the concept of beauty will be discussed in connection to its moral associations, the effects of cosmetics and health, and how concerns for reading the body are considered in the mid-century's moral novels. The evidence for the thesis will include various types of literature, including scientific and artistic treatises, fairytales, letters, advertisements, recipe books, cosmetic manuals, poetry and prose fiction. Although the scope of this thesis is wide reaching, the relationship between the body and mind, that is, the legibility of the inner qualities on the external signs of the body, remains very much at its centre. These numerous and varying examples have been chosen to demonstrate how influential this connection really was in the period, and how it informs the understanding of female beauty in the eighteenth-century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Loughborough University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Eighteenth century ; Female beauty ; Physiognomy ; Aesthetics ; Character ; Art ; Cosmetics ; Physical appearance ; Body and mind