The object of the present paper is anatomical dissection and its role in changing the perception of the body as it emerges from medical writing between the last quarter of the 17th century and the first decade of the 19th. The medical practice of dissection was fundamental for the elaboration of medicine as a modern science, based on observation, experimentation, hypothesising and testing. The increasing number of written accounts of this experience testifies to its relevance within the disciplinary community and within society at large. This is a period in which anatomical dissection is part of a lively “anatomy debate” (Hutton 2016: 16) at the heart of medical investigation and theoretical approach. The practice of dissecting bodies for scientific reasons was considered necessary, and recognised as essential. As a well-established practice, it was not technically illegal, but it definitely caused harsh public resentment because of the manner cadavers were systematically procured. In fact, “anatomy teachers had to be willing to work on the margins of the law to secure sufficient ‘fresh subjects’ for their courses” (Chaplin 2008: 137), and well into the 18th century, teachers and students continued to practice body snatching (Frank 1976: 401), alongside the activity of ‘professional’ grave robbers or resurrectionists, who worked for private anatomists and their own schools (Magee 2001: 378; cfr. also Hutton 2016: 22 and Lindemann 2010: 111-112).

Discovering Life in Death : Communicating Anatomical Dissection in Eighteenth-century Medical Writing / E. Lonati. - In: EXPRESSIO. - ISSN 2532-439X. - 2018:2(2018), pp. 65-96.

Discovering Life in Death : Communicating Anatomical Dissection in Eighteenth-century Medical Writing

E. Lonati
2018

Abstract

The object of the present paper is anatomical dissection and its role in changing the perception of the body as it emerges from medical writing between the last quarter of the 17th century and the first decade of the 19th. The medical practice of dissection was fundamental for the elaboration of medicine as a modern science, based on observation, experimentation, hypothesising and testing. The increasing number of written accounts of this experience testifies to its relevance within the disciplinary community and within society at large. This is a period in which anatomical dissection is part of a lively “anatomy debate” (Hutton 2016: 16) at the heart of medical investigation and theoretical approach. The practice of dissecting bodies for scientific reasons was considered necessary, and recognised as essential. As a well-established practice, it was not technically illegal, but it definitely caused harsh public resentment because of the manner cadavers were systematically procured. In fact, “anatomy teachers had to be willing to work on the margins of the law to secure sufficient ‘fresh subjects’ for their courses” (Chaplin 2008: 137), and well into the 18th century, teachers and students continued to practice body snatching (Frank 1976: 401), alongside the activity of ‘professional’ grave robbers or resurrectionists, who worked for private anatomists and their own schools (Magee 2001: 378; cfr. also Hutton 2016: 22 and Lindemann 2010: 111-112).
dissection; anatomy; medical writing; eighteenth-century; Philosophical Transactions
Settore L-LIN/12 - Lingua e Traduzione - Lingua Inglese
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/628318
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