The Corseted Skeleton

A Bioarchaeology of Binding

Authors: Gibson, Rebecca

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  • Presents the first bioarchaeological investigation of skeletal changes due to corseting, using data drawn from skeletal remains from 1700 to 1900
  • Challenges popular consensus on corsets by demonstrating that corseting at times promoted female agency and provided a means of self-protection
  • Provides a multidisciplinary consideration of the corset bridging anthropology, history, fashion studies, gender studies, and other areas 
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-50392-5
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Softcover $29.99
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About this book

Unpacking assumptions about corseting, Rebecca Gibson supplements narratives of corseted women from the 18th and 19th centuries with her seminal work on corset-related skeletal deformation. An undergarment that provided support and shape for centuries, the corset occupies a familiar but exotic space in modern consciousness, created by two sometimes contradictory narrative arcs: the texts that women wrote regarding their own corseting experiences and the recorded opinions of the medical community during the 19th century. Combining these texts with skeletal age data and rib and vertebrae measurements from remains at St. Bride’s parish London dating from 1700 to 1900, the author discusses corseting in terms of health and longevity, situates corseting as an everyday practice that crossed urban socio-economic boundaries, and attests to the practice as part of normal female life during the time period Gibson’s bioarchaeology of binding is is the first large-scalar, multi-site bioethnography of the corseted woman.

About the authors

Rebecca Gibson, PhD, is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, USA.  She is the author of Desire in the Age of Robots and AI: Investigations in Science Fiction and Fact (Palgrave, 2020).

Reviews

"The Corseted Skeleton: A Bioarchaeology of Binding is a fascinating journey into, and entanglement with, the practices of bodyscape and agency. This book is a wonderfully engaging act of scholarship that synthesizes osteological, archeological, anthropological, gendered and historical perspectives, weaving them into a robust narrative about bodies, agency, materials, and society." 

—Agustín Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University, USA

“In this important contribution, Gibson shows how bioarchaeology can be historical, theoretical, and relevant to modern discourse.  Alongside stunning skeletal images and osteobiographies, she details a history of corseting, fashion, and women’s agency usually overlooked in both historical and modern times.  Her integration of social theory, archival history, and bodies pushes us to consider our own modern assumptions about how skeletons are ‘made.’” 
—Meredith A.B. Ellis, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University, USA, and author of The Children of Spring Street: The Bioarchaeology of Childhood in a 19th Century Abolitionist Congregation (2019)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Table of contents (8 chapters)
  • Introduction: Shaping the Garment, Shaping the Woman

    Pages 1-27

    Gibson, Rebecca

  • The Corset in Our Collective Consciousness: Exotic, Erotic, or Other?

    Pages 29-55

    Gibson, Rebecca

  • The Corset as a Garment: Is It a Representative of Who Wore It?

    Pages 57-91

    Gibson, Dr. Rebecca

  • The Corset as Civilization: The Debate on Clothing and Women’s Social Wellbeing

    Pages 93-116

    Gibson, Rebecca

  • The Corset as a Killer: Did Corseting Negatively Impact Longevity?

    Pages 117-145

    Gibson, Rebecca

Buy this book

eBook $19.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-50392-5
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
Softcover $29.99
price for USA in USD
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Corseted Skeleton
Book Subtitle
A Bioarchaeology of Binding
Authors
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-50392-5
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-50392-5
Softcover ISBN
978-3-030-50391-8
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XV, 290
Number of Illustrations
1 b/w illustrations, 44 illustrations in colour
Topics