Brown Bag Character Detectives: Female Physiognomists in the Early American Republic 1 August 2014.Friday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Rachel Walker, University of Maryland

This project examines the fraught connection between female beauty, morality, and intelligence in the post-Enlightenment era. It examines how cultural ideas concerning these traits became intertwined by studying the 18th- and 19th-century “science” of physiognomy—a discipline rooted in the notion that an individual could discern a person’s moral and mental characteristics merely by examining his or her facial features. Early Americans discussed male and female physiognomy in distinct ways and used discussions about female appearance to distinguish between the moral and intellectual capacities of men and women.