class="csc-frame csc-frame-default"What would the history of culturally induced ignorance look like?

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

SARAH SCHEIDMANTEL

Healthy and beautiful from head to toe. Women between healing and optimisation using vibromassage around 1900


The dissertation will examine the definition of the female physis and psyche in relation to the concept of vibration, its theory and practice in the early twentieth century at the beginning of modernity: The incipient social changes, the differentiation of individual medical specialties as well as economic benefits gave rise to new ideas of the human self, and new instruments and theories redefined femininity. In order to understand the scope of the individual fields of knowledge between the body and medical instruments, I examine the concept of "vibration" as an (electro-)mechanical force acting on the body and transferring itself to various media. Since vibration was based on common medical body concepts, a medical normalisation knowledge was initially formed, which worked on the body by means of various (electro)mechanical practices. As the practice and its media migrated from the clinic to the open market, vibration connects the areas of the inside and outside of the clinic and becomes a phenomenon of modernity in the early twentieth century, which I focus on in order to analyse a metamorphosis of femininity. Vibration became a panacea that could be used not only by trained medical staff, but also by a lay public who could purchase the devices as "massage devices", it brought the private body into focus.

Vibration therapy opened up ways to demonstrate medical ideas and their economic applications on the female body. It became a medium of modernity, an intermediary between medicine, where it was introduced as an application, and the economic benefits associated with the increased use of electricity.