The ‘Polite’ Face: The Social Meanings Attached to Facial Appearance in Early Eighteenth-Century Didactic Journals

Abstract: The early eighteenth-century English elite were obsessed with their looks, and this article will examine why. Through analysis of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s didactic journals the Tatler, the Spectator and the Guardian, this paper will explore what symbolic meanings and associations were attached to the face in this period and how they informed the ways in which the face was perceived.