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Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England
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Book description

Offering an innovative perspective on early modern debates concerning embodiment, Alanna Skuse examines diverse kinds of surgical alteration, from mastectomy to castration, and amputation to facial reconstruction. Body-altering surgeries had profound socio-economic and philosophical consequences. They reached beyond the physical self, and prompted early modern authors to develop searching questions about the nature of body integrity and its relationship to the soul: was the body a part of one's identity, or a mere 'prison' for the mind? How was the body connected to personal morality? What happened to the altered body after death? Drawing on a wide variety of texts including medical treatises, plays, poems, newspaper reports and travel writings, this volume will argue the answers to these questions were flexible, divergent and often surprising, and helped to shape early modern thoughts on philosophy, literature, and the natural sciences. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.


‘This is a valuable, well-researched examination of how altered bodies disrupted ideas about the self within an early modern Christian context. Recommended’.

B. Lowe Source: Choice

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Full book PDF
  • Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England
    pp i-ii
  • Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England - Title page
    pp iii-iii
  • Altered Bodies and Contexts of Identity
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Contents
    pp v-v
  • Figures
    pp vi-vi
  • Acknowledgements
    pp vii-viii
  • Introduction
    pp 1-15
  • Chapter 1 - The Instrumental Body: Castrati
    pp 16-34
  • Chapter 2 - Invisible Women: Altered Female Bodies
    pp 35-55
  • Chapter 3 - Second-Hand Faces: Aesthetic Surgery
    pp 56-80
  • Chapter 4 - Acting the Part: Prosthetic Limbs
    pp 81-108
  • Chapter 5 - ‘Recompact My Scattered Parts’: the Altered Body after Death
    pp 109-137
  • Chapter 6 - Phantom Limbs and the Hard Problem
    pp 138-163
  • Conclusion
    pp 164-173
  • Bibliography
    pp 174-196
  • Index
    pp 197-202


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