Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics

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From the wooden teeth of George Washington to the Bly prosthesis, popular in the 1860s and boasting easy uniform motions of the limb, to today's lifelike approximations, prosthetic devices reveal the extent to which the evolution and design of technologies of the body are intertwined with both the practical and subjective needs of human beings.

The peculiar history of prosthetic devices sheds light on the relationship between technological change and the civilizing process of modernity, and analyzes the concrete materials of prosthetics which carry with them ideologies of body, ideals, body politics, and culture.

Simultaneously critiquing, historicizing, and theorizing prosthetics, Artificial Parts, Practical Lives lays out a balanced and complex picture of its subject, neither vilifying nor celebrating the merger of flesh and machine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These essays are valuable first forays into the history of prosthetics."

-Technology and Culture

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814761984
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 359
  • Sales rank: 839,142
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Ott is a curator of Science, Medicine, and Society at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, which houses the largest collection of medical artifacts in the U.S.

Stephen Mihmis a doctoral candidate in history at New York University.

David Serlin is Associate Professor of Communication and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

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Table of Contents

I: Need

1 Engineering Masculinity: Veterans and Prosthetics after World War Two

2 Re-Arming the Disabled Veteran: Artificially Rebuilding State and Society in World War One Germany

3 From Cotton to Silicone: Breast Prosthesis before 1950

4 ”How a One-Legged Rebel Lives”: Confederate Veterans and Artificial Limbs in Virginia

II: Design

5 Hard Wear and Soft Tissue: Craft and Commerce in Artificial Eyes

6 Modern Miracles: The Development of Cosmetic Prosthetics

7 Casing the Joint: The Material Development of Artificial Hips

8 ”There’s No Language for This”: Communication and Alignment in Contemporary Prosthetics

III: Use and Representation

9 The Prosthetics of Management: Motion Study, Photography, and the Industrialized Body in World War I America

10 ”A Limb Which Shall Be Presentable in Polite Society”: Prosthetic Technologies in the Nineteenth Century

11 The Long Arm of Benjamin Franklin

12 Technology Sits Cross-Legged: Developing the Jaipur Foot Prothesis

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2002

    This is prosthetics?

    The editor of this book leads off with a pretentious pseudo-intellectual argument about how prostheses symbolize male sexuality. Thank God he didn't write the entire book. This is a collection of essays some of which are only vaguely related to prosthetics. The chapter on the total hip replacement becomes little more than a list of names and dates in it's second half but the first half relates an interesting history of early efforts at hip joint replacement. Three chapters will be of interest to the prosthetic limb specialist. A discussion of Russian prosthetic services in the World War I era examines the priorities in selecting prosthetic designs. Chapters on civil war era prosthetics and communication between prosthetist and amputees are of the greatest interest. If you are prosthetic professional you will enjoy reading portions of this book but much I found much of the material of marginal interest or even off-topic, go for the paper bound edition.

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