Chapter 5 analyses perceptions by light therapists of the suntan (pigmentation) as the external sign of stored solar energy in the body, of the body visualised as literally ‘photogenic’ (light-generating). It does so by focusing specifically on advertisements using colour to convey the glowing tans and radiant smiles of healthy mothers, thriving babies and virile men, who consume light in the battle against ‘sun-starvation.’ Both sunlight and artificial light were directed onto mothers’ malfunctioning breasts to restore lactation, onto ‘backwards’ children to correct normal brain functioning, and onto injured soldiers to disinfect and heal their fetid battle wounds. In the regeneration of these highly-valued subjects, physicians and politicians alike perceived light as an aid to national salvation. Yet in encouraging citizens to emulate the dark skins of ‘primitive’ races, they conveyed ambivalent attitudes towards the merits of suntanned skin. This chapter investigates suntan as simultaneously a visual marker of recharged health and a troubling act of racial transgression during a period of heightened eugenic fervour in Britain and Europe.
There are so many people who have helped, supported, and inspired me, and I am delighted to be able to express my gratitude here.
I want to begin by thanking my family and friends – why should they always come last in these things? – especially my parents, Lynn and Nick Woloshyn; my in-laws, Colin and Janet Cleaves; my husband/best friend/personal copy-editor, Simon Cleaves; and our son, Henry. They truly understand how long a journey this has been and have been incredibly supportive, patient, and loving.
This book is the product of four years of research and collaborations, supported by a Wellcome Trust research fellowship in the Medical Humanities (grant #WT098912MA) and based in the Centre for the History of Medicine (CHM) at the University of Warwick. Everyone at the Wellcome and the CHM has been caring, generous with their time, and critical when it counts. I have been struck by the tremendous warmth, openness, and support of the Wellcome team, not least Dan O’Connor, Crestina Forcina, Chris Hassan, and Cecy Marden. At the CHM I am particularly grateful to my mentor, Hilary Marland, as well as to Tracy Horton and Sheilagh Holmes for all they have done. My research has been kindly assisted by excellent staff at many archives, libraries, and museums, notably the British Library, John Rylands Library, Florence Nightingale Museum, Greater Manchester County Archives, Hampshire Records Office, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, London Metropolitan Archives, Medical Museion, Modern Records Centre, Royal London Hospital Archives, Science Museum, Scottish Borders Council Archives, Thackray Medical Museum, and Wellcome Library. The generosity and aid of many private collectors, heirs, and rights-holders have enabled reproduction of the images, with particular thanks to Duncan Forbes, Martine Gagnebin, Nicolai Howalt, William Thuiller, Imogen Gray, Jeremy Smith, Philippa Smith, Wolfgang Suschitzky, and Heather Anthony, as well as the staff at the National Galleries of Scotland, London Metropolitan Archives, and the Wellcome Library. Excerpts from Chapter 5 originally appeared in my essay, ‘Regenerative Tanning: Pigmentation, Neo-Lamarckian Eugenics and the Visual Culture of the Cure de Soleil’, in Picturing Evolution and Extinction: Regeneration and Degeneration in Modern Visual Culture, edited by Fae Brauer and Serena Keshavjee (2016) and is published with the permission of Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Many colleagues of mine have provided invaluable feedback over the years on my research, and this book would be a rambling mess without them: Roberta Bivins, Fae Brauer, Anthea Callen, Simon Carter, Annie Jamieson, Ludmilla Jordanova, Richard Hobday, Nicolai Howalt, Mary Hunter, Greg Lynall, Alice Mah, Hilary Marland, Natasha McEnroe, Melissa Miles, Martin Moore, Katherine Rawling, Natasha Ruiz-Gómez, John Stanislav Sadar, and Tanya Sheehan. I would particularly like to single out Keren Hammerschlag for graciously reading – and re-reading – the chapters of the book, encouraging its clarity and confidence. Thank you also to the staff at Manchester University Press and Out of House Publishing, the Little Red Pen’s Liz Hudson, and the anonymous peer reviewers, who have clipped, shaped, and conditioned this unkempt manuscript into a shiny, finished book. Lastly, several influential teachers and peers in my long education deserve special mention: Caroline Alexander, Barbara Allison, Mitchell Frank, Helen Foster, Janice Helland, Vojtech Jirat-Wasiutynski, Carol Payne, and Carl Widstrand. Thank you to everyone for making me the scholar, author, and person I am today.