The body in question : some perceptions, problems and perspectives of the body in relation to character, c. 1750-1850
This work is a critical and historical exploration of some of the issues raised once it is posited that the appearance of the human body is a reliable and accurate indicator of psychological life beneath the skin. Its object is not to provide a continuous narrative [say, about the rise of scientific psychology] but to assemble and juxtapose a wide array of disparate materials and thereby resolve a number of issues. What made the appearance of the body an important subject of inquiry, what forms that inquiry took, and what made possible the development of a variety of discourses and practices centered on the body as a sign-system- such questions are at the centre of this study. The thesis is divided into 3 parts. The first takes as its focus the work of a number of leading intellectual figures of the mid- and late-eighteenth century, and explores their treatment of the body. The second deals with the rise of scientific culture in Britain and with the shift in discursive structures from the realms of 'artistic' and 'literary' culture to that of the scientific. The third seeks through scientific culture to deal with a set of popular characterologies- physiognomy, phrenology, and organology- tracing the relations of each to a number of different discourses. In what is a long and complex series of arguments and expositions, the thesis is equipped with numerous general and particular summaries and introductions to facilitate reading.