The modern interpretation of corseting labels the corset a killer. When actresses talk about stints in corsets for movies or TV shows, they often highlight how uncomfortable the garment is, how they are unable to eat, bend, breathe, or sit in their corsets, and how they cannot imagine what women went through when the corset was an everyday part of their lives. Yet, corseting as a practice lasted around 400 years. What, then, is the “truth” of the corset? Did it kill/maim/harm/traumatize those who wore it?
This presentation will look at historical documentation from women who corseted, men who had opinions about it, and doctors who examined corseted bodies. I have examined over a hundred skeletons from the St. Bride’s Parish, Fleet St., London, as well as sifting through thousands of burial records looking for evidence of death by corseting, and the results will shock you…
Rebecca Gibson’s published works include “Desire in the Age of Robots and AI: An Investigation in Science Fiction and Fact” (Palgrave Macmillan 2019), “The Corseted Skeleton: A Bioarchaeology of Binding” (Palgrave Macmillan 2020), and “Gender, Supernatural Beings, and the Liminality of Death: Monstrous Males/Fatal Females” (Lexington Books 2021). She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from American University, and when not writing or teaching can be found reading mystery novels amidst a pile of stuffed animals.
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