Session sponsored by mearcstapa
SEMA (Southeast Medieval Association) Conference Oct. 22-24 in Little Rock, Arkansas
The Medieval "Freak Show": Putting the Monstrous on Display in the Middle Ages
People and creatures perceived as monstrous or wondrous are often put on display for profit or exploitation. At times, this exhibitionism presents itself as "education." What has popularly been called the "freak show" achieved its height via the emergence of working class entertainments that transformed visual cultures in the nineteenth century, as exemplified in P.T. Barnum's circus and its sideshows, but also including innovations such as the stereoscope and the panorama, which prepared the rise of cinema and, later, television.