Rachel Blasé, who is working towards her Master's in Anthropology, received a grant from the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to conduct research for her M.A. Thesis on how American ideas about "freaks" changed with the advent of medical knowledge. The grant enables her to spend a week at the Museum in order to consult materials from the extensive archive of 19th century medical journals related to teratology and the study of abnormalities. Blasé's thesis looks at the "freak show" in American history and analyzes how shifts in medical knowledge and the public's perception of that knowledge changed attitudes about people's physical and mental abnormalities. Through a study of popular culture, medical discourse, and the freak show itself, she is researching how freakishness came to be seen as a set of medical issues and problems. In doing so, she explores the often racialized view of freaks as well as the birth of notions of disability in the American context.
Blasé will also be presenting her research at two conferences in Spring 2017: the William and Mary Graduate Research Symposium and the Virginia Humanities Conference in Shenandoah.
February 07, 2017