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Durham e-Theses
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Visual Representation and the Body in Early Modern Anatomy

PRANGHOFER, SEBASTIAN (2011) Visual Representation and the Body in Early Modern Anatomy. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Anatomy was crucial for the formation of modern cultural concepts of the body during the early modern period. In a process from the Renaissance to the turn of the nineteenth century, cosmological concepts of the body were secularized and gradually replaced by notions of the body as an object of modern medicine and science. This thesis argues that the visual representation of the anatomical body played a key role in this transformation. Until the end of the seventeenth century the iconography of anatomy legitimized the dissection of the body and portrayed the anatomist as an honourable, dignified and decent scholar. However, during the Enlightenment the moralizing visual language was gradually replaced by neo-classical aesthetics and art theory. Now technical skills and detailed knowledge became the defining features of the anatomist and the representations of the anatomical body.

This thesis uses a wide range of visual sources and analyzes them in the longue durée. The material includes illustrations from anatomical textbooks and their frontispieces, anatomical treatises and portraits of anatomists. These sources are discussed in their wider iconographic context as well as in relation to early modern concepts of the body and anatomical research. The first chapter discusses the general framework for the visual representation of the anatomical body, practice and authority, while the second chapter looks into how the visual representation of anatomy shaped the identity of the anatomist as the legitimate authority of the body. The other three chapters are case studies which use the examples of the rete mirabile, the lymphatic system and the unborn to analyze the different functions of anatomical images and how they were used to deal with uncertainty, establish new anatomical knowledge and reflected changing cultural meanings of the body.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:History of Medicine; History of the Body; early modern anatomy; rete mirabile; lymphatic vessels; foetus; portraiture;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Medicine and Health, School of
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Jun 2011 10:39

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