Literature and Medicine in the Eighteenth Century
The eighteenth century has been described as an era of increasing medicalization. Bodies became the subject of extensive political intervention, from mass inoculations to centralized responses to epidemics. For Michel Foucault, medicalization promoted disciplinary control and surveillance into the fabric of the body. With the expansion of print, lay people took responsibility for managing their health through their own knowledge of physiology and medicine. Self-regimen or preventative medicine, based on Hippocratic and Galenic principles, was contingent on the patient’s knowledge of their own lifestyle and constitution. E.C. Spary writes, “the body is central to the transformations of eighteenth-century medical historiography. Once the unproblematic subject of medical interventions, it has become the site of lived experience, a palimpsest on which medical, political, and personal authority are inscribed, and a key locus for the fashioning of identity, subjectivity, and selfhood.” Therefore, the imbrication of medical language and literary composition provide a useful frame for understanding the articulation of the body as a sign. This panel explores the complex intersections between literature and eighteenth century medical discourse, and considers their relation to our understanding of gender studies, gender politics, science, medicine, and literature.
This panel seeks papers that explore the complex intersections between eighteenth-century literature and medical discourse. How does the imbrication of medical language and literary composition provide a frame for understanding the articulation of the body as a sign? How has medical discourse influenced the fashioning of identity, subjectivity, and selfhood? Please submit 300-400 word abstracts and brief biographical statements to Kathleen Alves at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 30.
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