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Title: The material culture of physical impairment : assistive technology in Northern Europe, c.1400-c.1600
Author: Gillibrand, Rachael
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 3389
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis proposes the use of an interdisciplinary approach grounded in both visual and material culture in order to study the relationship between the body, technology, and notions of dis/ability in Northern Europe c. 1400–c. 1600. It will take an ‘object-driven’ approach to its source material in order to discover the practical ways in which fifteenth- and sixteenth-century assistive aids were designed, constructed, and sold, whilst also considering the cultural connotations associated with assistive technology – in particular, its connection with popular notions of status and gender. Chapter One provides a historiographical overview of the field and asks why assistive technology has been excluded from this discussion. Chapter Two focusses on ‘Crutches, Sticks, and Staffs’ to demonstrate how different kinds of ambulatory aids were used within fifteenth- and sixteenth-century imagery to signify different social groups and statuses. Chapter Three considers visual representations of ‘Chairs, Carts, and Barrows’, asking what these images reveal about contemporary understandings of the relationship between gender and the use of assistive technology. Chapter Four discusses the physical and cosmetic importance of mechanised prostheses in relation to high-status masculinity, with a particular focus on the case study of Götz von Berlichingen. Finally, Chapter Five will show how service dogs and spectacles came to have multiple (and often contradictory) meanings when represented in different visual contexts.
Supervisor: McCleery, Iona ; Frojmovic, Eva Sponsor: University of Leeds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available