The human body, traded, fragmented and ingested is at the centre of The Healing Corpse, which explores the connections between early modern literary representations of the eaten body and the medical consumption of corpses. The last decade has ...
produced a rich collection of monographs on early modern literature and the body; however, although the literature of the age is saturated with representations of cannibalism, there has been no book-length study that brings this phenomenon together with medical practices and beliefs. Thus, while my book makes a timely contribution to the burgeoning scholarly field of early modern literature and its cultural engagements in general, its originality lies in its analysis of the medical corpse market and its ideological and figurative constructs. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and beyond, the English pharmacological arsenal included mummy (mummia), both embalmed bodies from the Middle East and the bodies of the recently dead processed according to special recipes, as well as other bodily matter such as organs, fat, bone, blood, urine, and faeces. At the same time, Protestant Reformists constructed the Catholic belief in the real body of Christ in the eucharist sacrament as a savage act of cannibalism. Within a richly detailed medical and religious framework, my book explores the medical treatment of the human corpse and its uncanny resemblances to understandings of Christ as both food and medicine, and what writers do with this. I focus on the ways in which several sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English writers read, understand and represent corpse pharmacology and its cannibalistic implications.
Number of pages: 256
Date of publication: 24/03/2011
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