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Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England
Altered Bodies and Contexts of Identity


  • Date Published: February 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108843614

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • First scholarly examination of post-mastectomy embodiment in early modern England
    • First detailed scholarly examination of phantom limb pain prior to the nineteenth century
    • Demonstrates the extent of variation in early modern approaches to embodiment
    • Open Access title available through Cambridge Core
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2021
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108843614
    • length: 220 pages
    • dimensions: 150 x 230 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Instrumental Body: Castrati
    2. Invisible Women: Altered Female Bodies
    3. Second-hand Faces: Aesthetic Surgery
    4. Acting the Part: Prosthetic Limbs
    5. 'Recompact My Scattered Parts': The Altered Body after Death
    6. Phantom Limbs and the Hard Problem.

  • Author

    Alanna Skuse, University of Reading
    Alanna Skuse is the Wellcome Trust Research Fellow for the Department of English at the University of Reading. She was previously the Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Reading and long-term research fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Institute, Washington DC, and is also the author of Constructions of Cancer in Early Modern England: Ravenous Natures (2015).

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