Hygiene, Health, Pleasure, and Propriety: a Workshop on the History of Bathing

Deadline for participants to register: Thursday 5 May

This workshop is an opportunity for postgraduates and early careers to engage with the study of bathing and how it can enrich historical research. Through hands-on discussion of source materials, methods, and themes, we will explore bathing practices as historically situated phenomena. In the bath, ideas about healthy living and hygiene, bodily pleasure, and gendered concerns surrounding propriety come to the fore. At the same time, the social, political and religious meanings given to rituals of bathing have varied widely across time and space. This creates a fruitful ground for comparisons and makes the bath an ideal lens through which to study how social practices are embedded in time and place.

The workshop comprises two main elements. First, we will work with concrete primary source examples to explore how these might be used in historical analysis: for example, the potential of court records as a source on bathing practices in early modern Europe, and taking insights from sensory history as an entry point to gendered experiences of bathing in nineteenth-century Russia. Second, we will relate this round-table discussion to the current research interests of the participants and offer reciprocal feedback to help one another conceptualize our research in new ways.

This workshop is organised in cooperation with the Centre for Gender, Identity and Subjectivity (CGIS), University of Oxford.

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