“A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body” American Nudism, Medical Representation and American Obscenity Law, 1929-1942

25 Oct 2010
12:00 am

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Brian Hoffman

Brian Hoffman’s essay argues that nudism defeated obscenity laws that prevented the display of the naked body for scientific and educational purposes by presenting itself as a legitimate alternative health movement. In 1929, Maurice Parmelee, a recognized academic sociologist, published Nudism in Modern Life to introduce the therapeutic principles of the increasingly popular German nudist movement he had discovered while traveling abroad in Europe. Nudism in Modern Life challenged American assumptions that tied the body to shame, eroticism, and immorality, and, in 1934, the United States Customs Office seized 12 copies of Parmelee’s 300-page book. Nudist advocates, however, contended that the many pictures in Parmelee’s treatise represented the movement’s natural healing methods and therapeutic principles rather than illicit examples of commercial pornography. This essay analyzes the legal struggles of the American nudist movement to show how twentieth-century alternative healing systems maintained their identities and institutions despite the hostility of conventional medicine.


Download Flyer

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Office for the History of Science and Technology

Our Events

Other Events of Interest