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Marble, Muscle and Manly Bodies in the 18th Century

Sarah Goldsmith from the University of Leicester explores the way the C18th craze for weight lifting fed into ideas about masculinity. Recorded at the 2019 Free Thinking Festival

What was more important in the construction of an eighteenth-century man’s body: the dumbbell or the dumbwaiter? Who had the most enviable body shape: the svelte Apollo Belvedere or the rotund John Bull? Dr Sarah Goldsmith, from the University of Leicester, explores the early origins of modern gym culture in the tantalisingly elusive and occasionally surprisingly sweaty world of eighteenth-century male physicality.

Sarah Goldsmith is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centure for Urban History and School of History, University of Leicester.

Her Essay was recorded in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of this year's Free Thinking Festival.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio.

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20 minutes