The Body Unveiled: Anatomy and Interiority in Early Modern Spain

Neacsu, Elena, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Padrón, Ricardo, Department for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

“The Body Unveiled: Anatomy and Interiority in Early Modern Spain” explores the literary and cultural impact of advances in medicine, and, in particular, the establishment of anatomy as a scientific discipline during the Spanish Baroque period. Specifically, this study revises the critical and historical narratives in which the “culture of dissection” resonates in early modern Spain while simultaneously examining the anatomical discourses fascinated by representing the body’s interior in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century cultural productions. By drawing from interdisciplinary perspectives on anatomy from a broad variety of sources—and including novels, the auto sacramental, poetry, biographies of saints, and legal testimonies of the Counter Reformation Church—this project explores how early modern Spanish authors imaginatively embrace the popular fascination with anatomical dissection and used it to shape their literary creations. Lastly, this study shows how the “culture of dissection” infiltrated the Peninsula and, despite bitter criticism condemning the country’s backwardness and isolation from the rest of Europe, the anatomical discourses emerged, flourished, and pervaded the cultural and social landscape of early modern Spain.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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