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We usually see the Renaissance as a marked departure from older traditions, but Renaissance scholars often continued to cling to the teachings of the past. For instance, despite the evidence of their own dissections, which contradicted ancient and medieval texts, Renaissance anatomists continued to teach those outdated views for nearly two centuries.
In Books of the Body, Andrea Carlino explores the nature and causes of this intellectual inertia. On the one hand, anatomical practice was constrained by a reverence for classical texts and the belief that the study of anatomy was more properly part of natural philosophy than of medicine. On the other hand, cultural resistance to dissection and dismemberment of the human body, as well as moral and social norms that governed access to cadavers and the ritual of their public display in the anatomy theater, also delayed anatomy's development.
A fascinating history of both Renaissance anatomists and the bodies they dissected, this book will interest anyone studying Renaissance science, medicine, art, religion, and society.
List of Illustrations
1. Representations: The Dissection Scene—An Iconographic Investigation
The Quodlibetarian Model: The Title Pages of Mondino dei Liuzzi's "Anatomia"
The Persistence of a Model: Berengario da Carpi
A Transitional Iconography?
The Shift: The Title Page of Andreas Vesalius's "De humani corporis fabrica"
Images of Dissection in the Vesalian "Manner"
2. Practices: Norms and Behavior at the Public Anatomy Lesson—The Studium Urbis in the Sixteenth Century
Between the Curia and the College: A Portrait of the Physician
Preliminary Procedures and Public Control
The Anatomy Lesson and a Bit of History
The Selection of the Cadaver: Explicit Criteria and Implicit Caution
Around the Cadaver: Before and after the Anatomy
Masses and Alms: Dissection and the Afterlife
Between Saying and Doing
3. Tradition: An Archeology of Anatomical Knowledge and of Dissecting Practices
Physicians and Philosophers Working on the Discovery of the Body, or the Uses of Anatomy
Unveiling: Dissecting Animals, Dissecting Humans
A Paradigm for a Millennium
Unease, Disgust, Contempt: Aristotle, the Empiricists and Christians on the Dissection of the Human Body
The Rebirth of Anatomy
4. Bodies and Texts: Renaissance Anatomy: Dissection and Anatomical Knowledge in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
The Dismemberment of Cadavers
Authority and Evidence
Limitations of Belief: Vesalius, Galen, the Galenists
Revulsion and Unease