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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

Chapter 2 - Anatomizing Taste

Summary

This chapter turns to medical writing in order to probe the relationship between literary taste and taste as an object and faculty of empirical investigation. In anatomical textbooks – notably Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia – ‘taste’ slides referentially between gustation and readerly discrimination. Against a conventional scholarly supposition that anatomical history follows a trajectory away from classical authorities towards the empirical certainties of sense experience, I contend that this semantic flexibility emblematises an early modern insistence on the productive complementarity of proto-scientific empiricism and philological erudition, bodily sensation and mental judgement. The complementarity also has implications for our understanding of early modern subjectivities, pointing to a notion of selfhood that is simultaneously sensorially and textually inscribed, grounded both in physical experience and in the acquisition of knowledge.

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