SLOUCH | A Busboys and Poets Books Presentation

SLOUCH | A Busboys and Poets Books Presentation

Date and Time

Jul 18, 2024 6:00 pm

Location

14th & V

2021 14th St NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20009

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Description:

In the early twentieth century, American public health officials worked to mitigate the spread of an epidemic: poor posture. In SLOUCH: POSTURE PANIC IN MODERN AMERICA, science historian Beth Linker outlines a decades-long crusade against slouching that speaks to the anxieties of a newly industrialized world.

SLOUCH charts the progression of the posture epidemic from 1859, when Charles Darwin introduced his “posture-first” theory of evolution; to the formation of the American Posture League, an association of physical educators, paleoanthropologists, and doctors, in 1914; up to the mid-century collegiate practice of taking semi-nude posture photographs of students, culminating in a 1995 New York Times Magazine exposé of Ivy League photos of public figures such as Hillary Clinton, Diane Sawyer, and George H.W. Bush that had been archived at the Smithsonian. While attitudes towards posture surveillance may have changed, Linker argues that the posture panic has never truly gone away, as culture and (pseudo)science are in a continuous feedback loop. SLOUCH is a deeply researched cultural history of a mostly forgotten period.

Beth Linker is joining us on the Busboys stage alongside scholar and activist Jaipreet Virdi to share her research on the grip slouching has continuously had on American culture. Copies of the book will be available for purchase during and after the event, and Linker will be signing following the program.

This event is free and open to all. Our program begins at 6:00 pm, and will be followed by an audience Q&A. Copies of SLOUCH will be available for purchase before and after the event. Please note that this event is in person and will not be livestreamed.


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Beth Linker is the Samuel H. Preston Endowed Term Associate Professor in the Social Sciences in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America, and her work has been featured in The New Yorker, the Boston Globe, the Huffington Post, and other publications.

Jaipreet Virdi is a scholar activist and Associate Professor in the Department of History at University of Delaware. Her first book, Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History raises pivotal questions about deafness in American society and the endless quest for a cure. Her writing has appeared in Slate, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Psyche, The Wellcome Collection, and the New Internationalist. 

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