Anatomy, Allegory, and the Grounds of Knowledge in the Long Eighteenth Century
Revealing Bodies turns to the eighteenth century to ask a question with continuing relevance: what kinds of knowledge condition our understanding of our own bodies? Focusing on the tension between particularity and generality that inheres in intellectual discourse about the body, Revealing Bodies explores the disconnection between the body understood as a general form available to knowledge and the body experienced as particularly one's own. Erin Goss locates this division in contemporary bodily exhibits, such as Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds, and in eighteenth-century anatomical discourse. Her readings of the corporeal aesthetics of Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry, William Blake's cosmological depiction of the body's origin in such works as The [First] Book of Urizen, and Mary Tighe's reflection on the relation between love and the soul in Psyche; or, The Legend of Love demonstrate that the idea of the body that grounds knowledge in an understanding of anatomy emerges not as fact but as fiction. Ultimately, Revealing Bodies describes how thinkers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and bodily exhibitions in the twentieth and twenty-first call upon allegorized figurations of the body to conceal the absence of any other available means to understand that which is uniquely our own: our existence as bodies in the world.
Read a review in Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century here.
Read the University press article here.
About the author:
Erin M. Goss is Assistant Professor at Clemson University, where her research and scholarship focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British poetry, intellectual history, and feminist thought. She has published articles on William Blake, Thomas Carlyle, and Gerard Manley Hopkins and has intellectual interests ranging from the history of allegory to contemporary science fictional representations of global catastrophe. Her next book project focuses on late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century women poets and the figure of Echo.