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Title: Imag(in)ing anatomy : dissecting difference through the art of surgery.
Author: Doyle, Julie.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2423 6438
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis locates contemporary conceptualisations of gendered embodiment as a particular effect of the historical projects of anatomy and surgery as they emerged in eighteenth century Europe. Dissection, as a practice of surgery, sought to define knowledge of the body through the isolation of its structures and parts. Disembodied matter was articulated as evidence of embodied knowledge - knowledge concerning notions of sexual and racial difference, inscribed through a surgical narrative. The operations of the surgical knife in the dissection and isolation of matter were thus implicated in the construction of anatomical knowledge through notions of cultural difference. Yet surgeons/anatomists were reliant upon artistic processes of representation in order to disseminate and make intelligible knowledge of anatomy. The language of surgery as a 'scientific' discourse of the body drew heavily upon the representational language of art during this period. The Enlightenment surgeon was presented primarily as an artist, represented through a gentlemanly discourse of the liberal arts and social progressiveness. Within the context of a scientific discourse of anatomy, the methods of surgery were likened to the creative processes of painting and poetry. The anatomical body, as the subject of the surgeon's inquiry, can therefore be interpreted as a specific medium of representation, interpreted according to aesthetic ideals. This thesis argues that the contemporary articulation of sexual and racial difference is one effect of the surgical isolation of anatomical matter. The surgical view of the body as an array of detachable and definable parts involved an imaging of these forms. Contemporary investment in narratives of gendered and raced embodiment can be understood as effects of the historical links between the theories and practices of the visual arts on the one hand, and an Enlightenment discourse of surgery on the other. This dissertation aims to assist a rethinking of that investment by revealing some of the historical and artistic processes by which the material body came to occupy its position as a privileged signifier of difference.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History History Literature Mass media Performing arts