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Title: Using Vesalius : strategies for the presentation and sharing of anatomical knowledge gained through dissection in the Renaissance
Author: Robson, Laura
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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Andreas Vesalius published his Latin anatomical treatise the Fabrica in 1543. It was one of the first medical treatises to contain illustrations representing the anatomised body in an artistic and apparently naturalistic way. The figures are posed as living cadavers and dissected torsos representing classical sculpture while the accompanying texts describe the internal structures being shown. Their artistic qualities have encouraged study of the figures in isolation from the accompanying texts. This thesis aims to reunite the figures and texts of the Fabrica. Developing the arguments of Kusukawa, I will demonstrate that there are ‘visual-verbal arguments’ between the figures and texts meaning they ought to be studied together in order to fully understand the anatomical information they present. The first part of this thesis examines the impact of these figures on the attitudes towards dissection, arguing against the claim that the classicising and self-demonstration figures are presented so as to dampen the violence of dissection on the body. Instead, I argue that these figures and their texts share knowledge of both the canonical body and the diversity in human beings. I consider the role of the viewer in the anatomy theatre by applying aspects of Gaze Theory to the title-page scene of the Fabrica, and examine how Vesalius and Galen used the sensory experience of vivisection to reinforce their claims as expert anatomists. The second part of the thesis investigates how Vesalius’ treatise was copied and reused by others. Examining how the images and texts from the Fabrica were copied, adapted and translated in Geminus’, Raynalde’s and Valverde’s treatises, and moving away from the common accusation of plagiarism, I demonstrate the impact of these manuals on Vesalian visual-verbal arguments and the dissemination of Vesalian anatomical knowledge within a wider vernacular audience.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available