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By Eve Keller

Generating our bodies and Gendered Selves examines the textured interrelations among scientific writing approximately new release and childbirth - what we now name replica - and rising notions of selfhood in early glossy England. At a time whilst clinical texts first seemed in English in huge numbers and the 1st symptoms of recent medication have been rising either in conception and in perform, scientific discourse of the physique was once richly interwoven with cultural concerns.

Through shut readings of quite a lot of English-language scientific texts from the mid-sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries, from realized anatomies and works of observational embryology to well known books of physic and advertisement midwifery manuals, Keller seems on the specific assumptions approximately our bodies and selves that clinical language necessarily enfolds. while wombs are defined as "free" yet still "bridled" to the bone; while sperm, first noticeable within the 17th century by means of the help of the microscope, are imagined as minute "adventurers" looking a secure spot to be "nursed": and whilst for the 1st time embryos are defined as "freeborn," absolutely "independent" from the ladies who undergo them, the rhetorical formulations of producing our bodies look in actual fact to implicate principles in regards to the gendered self.

Keller indicates how, in an age marked through social, highbrow, and political upheaval, early smooth English medication inscribes within the flesh and functioning of its producing our bodies the manifold questions on gender, politics, and philosophy that jointly provide upward thrust to the trendy Western liberal self - a traditionally restricted (and, Keller argues, a traditionally aberrant) proposal of the self as individuated and self sustaining, absolutely rational and carefully male.

An engagingly written and interdisciplinary paintings that forges a serious nexus between scientific background, cultural experiences, and literary research, Generating our bodies and Gendered Selves will curiosity students in early glossy literary experiences, feminist and cultural experiences of the physique and subjectivity, and the background of women's healthcare and reproductive rights.

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Extra info for Generating Bodies and Gendered Selves: The Rhetoric of Reproduction in Early Modern England

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If the liberal humanist/ Enlightenment model imagines a self both epistemologically and ontologically separable from the body, a self that wills in a causal vacuum (an unmoved mover) and can therefore freely and autonomously direct its course, and a self that from its inviolable perch within the individual is cut off (and hence free) from its material context, modern neuroscience imagines a self constituted by exactly the opposite characteristics. Though they disagree on much, there appears to be consensus among both neurophilosophers and philosophical neuroscientists (by which I mean practicing neuroscientists who write about the philosophical implications of their work) that there is simply no basis on which to support a belief in the self as an entity separable either from the body as a whole or from the brain’s general capaci- 2 6 / Posthuman and Premodern Bodies and Selves ties.

From Ashmole Manuscript 399; thirteenth-century illustration, depicting the flow of psychic pneuma to the organs and extremities. Reproduced by permission of the Bodleian Library. Posthuman and Premodern Bodies and Selves / 3 9 or indulgent, brave or cowardly, shrewd or foolish—are an expression of their psychic function, and if psyche depends on the material mixture of the body, it follows that personhood, at least in so far as it entails one’s character, must be understood as being embodied. The body is thus the basis not only of what a person materially is but of who and how a person is in the world.

This myth was literally inconceivable for Galen because the theory of qualities made seamless the joint between the human and the natural world. Human being was understood as an aspect of a network—not in precisely the same way that Andy Clark conceives of human nature as cyborgian but certainly closer to Clark’s sense of a person’s proper boundaries beyond the skin-bag of the skull than to the Cartesian sense of an “I” that exists as an isolated, immaterial thinking thing. 3 6 / Posthuman and Premodern Bodies and Selves If human being is thus understood as embedded, as fully pervious to and consisting of context, it is also understood, medically at least, as fully embodied.

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