Standards of beauty: considering the lives of W. A. Poucher

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This article considers the complex identity of W. A. Poucher, acclaimed landscape photographer, regional guidebook writer, and perfumer-cosmetician. Taking narrative form, it couples recent disciplinary experiments with the writing of geography and writing of biography. As an exercise in historical geography, the article is concerned with popular topographical culture in mid-twentieth-century Britain, and, gendered subjectivities emergent in the modern world. By considering different aspects of one man?s life-world, an investigative quest is undertaken, one encompassing beauty standards (for attractiveness and ordinariness, landscape scenery and the human body), cultural categories (popular and picturesque, commercial and conservative), sensibilities (camp and queer, dandyism and double-ness), and social values or vices (attributed to surfaces and depths, atmospheres and appearances). The life in question comes to be known according to the sense economies and aesthetics of desirable things, including the miniature camera, pictorial guidebooks, shapely mountains, makeup, cosmetics and fragrances, flash cars, evening television, and weekend golf. W. A. Poucher is ever present as the central subject of geo-biographical inquiries, although any temptation to conclusively place his person is resisted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-79
Number of pages29
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2019


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