This fascinating volume tackles the history of the terms 'normal' and 'abnormal'. Originally meaning 'as occurring in nature', normality has taken on significant cultural gravitas and this book recognizes and explores that fact.

The essays engage with the concepts of the normal and the abnormal from the perspectives of a variety of academic disciplines – ranging from art history to social history of medicine, literature, and science studies to sociology and cultural anthropology. The contributors use as their conceptual anchors the works of moral and political philosophers such as Canguilhem, Foucault and Hacking, as well as the ideas put forward by sociologists including Durkheim and Illich.

With contributions from a range of scholars across differing disciplines, this book will have a broad appeal to students in many areas of history.

chapter 1|25 pages

The normal and the abnormal

Reflections on norms and normativity
ByWaltraud Ernst

chapter 2|27 pages

Invisible friends

Questioning the representation of the court dwarf in Hapsburg Spain
ByJanet Ravenscroft

chapter 3|20 pages

From ‘monstrous’ to ‘abnormal’

The case of conjoined twins in the nineteenth century
BySarah Mitchell

chapter 4|28 pages

Eccentric lives

Character, characters and curiosities in Britain, c. 1760–1900
ByJames Gregory

chapter 5|21 pages

Constructing the common type

Physiognomic norms and the notion of ‘civic usefulness’, from Lavater to Galton
ByLucy Hartley

chapter 6|20 pages

Norms and violations

Ugliness and abnormality in caricatures of Monsieur Mayeux
ByNicola Cotton

chapter 7|23 pages

Made to measure?

Tailoring and the ‘normal’ body in nineteenth-century France
ByAlison Matthews David

chapter 8|18 pages

‘A masculine mythology suppressing and distorting all the facts’

British women contesting the concept of the male-as-norm, 1870–1930
ByLesley A. Hall

chapter 9|22 pages

Interpreting abnormal psychology in the late nineteenth century

William James's spiritual crisis
ByFrancis Neary

chapter 10|20 pages

Can kinship be designed and still be normal?

The curious case of child adoption
ByEllen Herman

chapter 11|20 pages

Flexible norms?

From patients' values to physicians' standards
ByChristiane Sinding

chapter 12|17 pages

A matter of degree

The normalisation of hypertension, c. 1940–2000
ByCarsten Timmermann

chapter 13|20 pages

Deviant roles, normal lives

Why every piazza needs its own ‘madman’
BySara Bergstresser