Sociological History of Excretory Experience. Defecatory Manners and Toiletry Technology

Author: Inglis, David
This study illustrates how it was the shifting relationships between the aristocracy, bourgeoisie and working classes over several centuries which were greatly responsible for the ways in which we defecate and view human wastes today. The focus is on the historical development of these factors in Western Europe over the last several centuries. This final aspect includes the construction of water-based sewer systems and the development of water closets in 19th and early 20th centuries.


“Never before has any single work achieved the level of synthesis of different sources and different academic disciplines that this book exemplifies. In addition to its innovative focus, Dr. Inglis’s work is also a very impressive piece of historical scholarship, grasping as it does the broad sweep of socio-cultural changes in this particular area of human life in the West from Ancient Greece to the present day. . . . this combination of psychoanalytic and sociological models allows him to understand in new and often unexpected ways a vast array of social and cultural artefacts, from nineteenth century water closet designs to Roman sewers, from medieval medical practices to the literary works of Rabelais and Swift. . . . Dr. Inglis’s book will greatly appeal to those interested in the sociology and anthropology of the human body, material culture, and the history of Western modes of thought and practice. More practically, it will also interest those engaged in the study of human waste management and disposal. I have no doubt that it will stand as the major work on the study of human wastes and how societies seek to bring these under regulation and control.” – Dr. Norman Stockman

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Introduction: Excreta and Excretion in the Modern World
1. A History of Excreta and Excretion
2. Defecation in the Pre-Modern World
3. Understanding the Rise of Modern Excretion
4. The rise of a new Faecal order: From the Late Medieval Period to 1800 AD
5. The Rise of Sewer Systems
6. The Spread of the Water Closet
Conclusion: The Making of Modern Excretory Mores
Bibliography; Index