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234 × 156 mm
424 pages
121 illustrations
05 Feb 2018

Stand up Straight! A History of Posture Sander L. Gilman

Our bodies are not fixed; they change over time. They vary with alterations in diet, exercise and illness, and shift as we age. Our attitudes to bodies, and especially to posture – how people hold themselves, how they move – are also fluid. Our stance and gait are interpreted as healthy or ill, able or disabled, elegant or slovenly, beautiful or ugly. In Stand Up Straight!: A History of Posture Sander L. Gilman probes these shifting concepts of posture to show how society views who we are and what we are able to do by how our bodies appear.

From Neanderthal man to modern humans, Gilman shows how we have used our understanding of posture to define who we are – and who we are not. The book traverses theology and anthropology, medicine and politics, and ranges from discarded ideas of race to the most modern ideas of disability, and from theories of dance to concepts of national identity. Interweaving the history of posture with our developing knowledge of anatomy and cultural history, and fully illustrated with an array of striking images, Stand Up Straight! is the first comprehensive history of the upright body at rest and in movement.

‘Sander Gilman illuminates the historical significance of posture in the workplace, in our bodies and minds, in the military, and in culture. Underpinned by medicine, anthropology and social engineering, never before has race, disability and citizenship been so astutely linked to the ideal and image of standing up straight. A tour de force analysis, accompanied by extraordinary illustrations.’ – Ana Carden-Coyne, Professor of History, University of Manchester

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Sander L. Gilman is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University. A cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of more than ninety books.

Introduction: Posture Beyond the Workplace
1 Posture in the World of Movement
2 Postures of the Mind: Theology and Philosophy Explain Human Posture
3 Chest Out! Posture’s Military Meanings
4 Medicine as Therapy for an Unhealthy Posture
5 Dance and the Social Taming of Posture
6 Education Shapes a Healthy and Beautiful Posture
7 Anthropology Remakes Posture: Lamarck, Darwin and Beyond
8 ‘Natural Posture’: Posture and Race
9 ‘Political Posturing’: Posture Defines the Good Citizen
10 Contemporary Posture and Disability Studies
Conclusion: Maps of Moral Posture

Photo Acknowledgements