Flowers of Evil, Corporeal Waxworks: Orientalist Curiosity Cabinets

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Spring 2008

Project Description/Abstract

I will prepare a new chapter and draft another for my second book. “Flowers of Evil, Corporeal Waxworks: Orientalist Curiosity Cabinets,” enlists research materials I garnered from archives such as the Bibliothèque Nationale Française and the Musée de Moulages at the Hôpital Saint Louis, including medical treatises and images of artistically rendered wax mold models of the diseased body from the late nineteenth century through the postwar period. These artifacts, although presented as medical teaching materials, literally and figuratively also place on exhibit the underside of official French narratives and policies concerning virtue and legitimacy. The secret fantasies and anxieties regarding vice, the blossoming of forbidden desires, and exoticism are projected onto bodies outside the respectable spaces of bourgeois life, in consonance with poet Charles Baudelaire’s conflation of beauty and horror. These insights complement a second chapter I will draft, “A Dangerous Romance: Transgressing Cultural Spectacles of Gender and Nation.”

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