Tag Archives: Consumption

Ladies in red: medical and metaphorical reflections on La Traviata

Milad Matta Gregory Rutecki Lyndhurst, Ohio, United States   Illustration by Jason Malmberg. “. . . phthisic beauty[’s] . . . most famous operatic embodiment was Violetta Valery . . .This physical type became not only fashionable but sexy . . . When a society does not understand—and cannot control—a disease, ground seems to open […]

Vampires and the Tuberculous Family

Sylvia Pamboukian Moon Township, PA   Public Health poster, New York National Child Welfare Association, ca. 1920-23. Library of Congress “The Tuberculous Family.” Listed by Library of Congress website with “No known restrictions on publication” An isolated village, a series of mysterious deaths, a mob in the graveyard at midnight—it sounds like the climax of […]

The art of consumption – TB and John Lavery

Emily Boyle Belfast, Northern Ireland   1. “The sick child” Tuberculosis, (TB) is often regarded as a historical disease—in the 1880’s it caused a quarter of all deaths in the UK. Mortality rates from TB fell by 17% between 2005 and 2015,1 but it remains an important health concern. Worldwide it is still the second most […]

Consumption and vampires: metaphor and myth before science

Gregory W. Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio, United States   Illustrations of vampires. Provided by Author.       “In New England . . . It is believed that consumption is not a physical but a spiritual disease . . . as long as the body of a dead consumptive relative has blood in its heart it […]

Where no birds sing: tuberculosis in Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”

Putzer J. Hung St. Louis, Missouri, USA   O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Alone and palely loitering? The sedge has wither’d from the lake, And no birds sing. O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms! So haggard and so woe-begone? The squirrel’s granary is full, And the harvest’s done. I see a lily on thy […]

Art, Cristobal Rojas, and tuberculosis: a Latin American cultural experience

Maria S. Landaeta Aldo L. Schenone Gregory W. Rutecki   Fig. 1: Self portrait by Rojas, (1887) [public domain] Tuberculosis, the “captain of all these men of death,” has devastated diverse societies for thousands of years. How are experiences related to this unforgiving and seemingly insatiable disease made unique by their cultural contexts? The visual […]