Interrogating the Idea of “Reform” in William Acton’s Prostitution Considered
This paper interrogates the idea of reform in William Acton’s Prostitution Considered in its Moral, Social and Sanitary Aspects (1869), in the context of the Contagious Diseases Acts passed in England. While the prostitute becomes a site onto which multiple anxieties are plotted, at the same time reform becomes a vehicle for a variety of agendas-economic, social and political. The medical text then is not just about contagion or disease but rather the social reform of the prostitute herself who is a mobile conduit for passing on disease. This paper has looked at the intersection between medicine and social reform-and how this intersection in turn becomes a potent place for hoisiting Victorian morals.