Open Access (free)
Light therapy and visual culture in Britain, c. 1890–1940

Soaking up the rays forges a new path for exploring Britain’s fickle love of the light by investigating the beginnings of light therapy in the country from c.1890-1940. Despite rapidly becoming a leading treatment for tuberculosis, rickets and other infections and skin diseases, light therapy was a contentious medical practice. Bodily exposure to light, whether for therapeutic or aesthetic ends, persists as a contested subject to this day: recommended to counter psoriasis and other skin conditions as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression; closely linked to notions of beauty, happiness and well-being, fuelling tourism to sunny locales abroad and the tanning industry at home; and yet with repeated health warnings that it is a dangerous carcinogen. By analysing archival photographs, illustrated medical texts, advertisements, lamps, and goggles and their visual representation of how light acted upon the body, Woloshyn assesses their complicated contribution to the founding of light therapy. Soaking up the rays will appeal to those intrigued by medicine’s visual culture, especially academics and students of the histories of art and visual culture, material cultures, medicine, science and technology, and popular culture.

Open Access (free)

energy’ (ultraviolet radiation) stored in the body (see epigraph). 4 He advocated both sunbathing and the use of lamps to poor and rich alike in his 1929 book, The Sunlight Cure . As is clear from the first epigraph by Sir Leonard Hill (NIMR), Dane was not alone in encouraging the public. Despite their vastly different credentials, they both perceived ultraviolet radiation as having the capacity to protect the body by

in Soaking up the rays
Open Access (free)

[RIBA], 1933) In May 1928, The Times published a forty-page supplement entitled, ‘Sunlight and Health’, replete with photographs, illustrations, and advertisements. Readers’ eyes were greeted with smiling faces, bronzed skin, and lithe nude and semi-nude figures in open fields and on busy beaches, or indoors under gleaming lamps and shafts of light ( Figs. 1.1 – 1.4 ). These images

in Soaking up the rays
Open Access (free)

electricity appear safely contained in its rich, polished wooden casing. 7 Its promotional advertising, as evident in Plate 1 , only further emphasised its polish, its sophistication, as an object not simply of vitalising health but glamorous beauty. Reputable medical men and quacks alike promoted home-use lamps for public use as the ideal preventive means to health in the absence of natural sunlight. Other

in Soaking up the rays
Open Access (free)

] can extend our understanding of past societies and habitats. 15 What of the present? Can looking at the past, especially through images and objects, prove useful to thinking about our ambivalent relationship with natural and artificial sunlight today? Conversely, can contemporary images help us to rethink the past? As of April 2011, UK legislation has

in Soaking up the rays
Open Access (free)

.3 – 3.4 ). 7 Note, for example, the back of the central child in a photograph reproduced in Victor Dane’s The Sunlight Cure of open arc phototherapy at an unspecified London hospital ( Fig. 3.3 ). Here the back of the child is engulfed in blackness, presenting a striking silhouette, because the only lighting in the room was produced by the arc lamp itself. We find the same in Figure 3.4 , of the Institute of Ray

in Soaking up the rays
Open Access (free)

practitioners of both natural sunlight therapy (heliotherapy) and artificial light therapy (phototherapy). Patients’ photosensitivities were monitored closely to gauge whether the treatment would be successful or not, but the degree and kind of reaction produced to determine ‘success’ varied enormously among practitioners, in Britain and abroad. As I discuss in Chapter 5 , pigmentation (‘suntan’) had a related role to play, many

in Soaking up the rays
Open Access (free)
Ben Okri, Chenjerai Hove, Dambudzo Marechera

paradoxically felt comfortable, into bearing the burden of his ‘normal condition’, grinding childhood poverty in Rusape township, and the later miseries of homelessness in Europe and in urban Zimbabwe.28 Even his work produced in England is presciently imbued with disgust not only at the social prejudices of Europe and its colonial sidekick, Rhodesia, but at the violence and exploitation of post-1980 Zimbabwe, its dog-eat-dog danses macabre. Marechera published two books during the time he spent in England, The House of Hunger (1978) and Black Sunlight (1980), that reflect

in Stories of women
The paradoxes of sustainability and Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island

) that have all but wiped out the old human race, reducing it to scattered hordes of bestialised humanoids who have lost the capacity for language and are unable to maintain any complex form of social organisation. The neohumans no longer need to eat or defecate, they subsist on a diet of mineral salts, water and sunlight, and they no longer have sex. Their social contacts are reduced to infrequent videophone conferences. When a clone dies, his or her replacement – a mature individual with the body of an eighteen-year-old – is shipped from the Central City to the

in Literature and sustainability
Open Access (free)
Robert Hamer after Ealing

the film’s prime scenes are set in noir’s universal City of Dreadful Night. Daytime episodes are consigned to gloomy offices dulled by the sulky grey light of an overcast sky. La ville lumière this isn’t, and only once does the film evoke sunlight: an insipid boating expedition on the Seine, filmed with the insolent offhandedness Hamer reserved for scenes he despised. Unevenness, as Charles Drazin

in British cinema of the 1950s