Exploring new histories of rejuvenation and anti-ageing in one of the world's leading medical journals.
Where do our modern ideas about anti-ageing come from? We have a tendency to think of commercial anti-ageing as a recent phenomenon, but it has a long history, stretching back well before the twentieth century. Dr James Stark has a new article published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet which explores exactly this issue.
In his article, "The Age of Youth", Dr Stark traces the origins of modern electrotherapy to the eighteenth century and argues that some of the ideas and products which we might now think of as being "quack", such as the Overbeck Rejuvenator which first appeared in the 1920s, had much in common with mainstream medicine and biomedical science, providing a headache for the medical profession who struggled to denounce these devices.
As part of his new AHRC Fellowship project, Endless Possibilities of Rejuvenation, Dr Stark is examining how the interwar period in Britain saw the popularisation of a huge range of strategies for slowing, stopping or even reversing the ageing process. These treatments and products included everything from the latest fad diet or exercise trend to surgical procedures designed to boost the levels of testosterone in the body.
The overall project involves collaborations with our longstanding partners at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds as well as Boots and the National Trust. The Fellowship will run until September 2018 as Dr Stark works on a new book - The Age of Youth - which will reveal for the first time how modern anti-ageing and rejuvenation began in Britain.