What is the body? How was it culturally constructed, conceived, and
cultivated before and after the advent of rationalism and modern
science? This interdisciplinary study elaborates a cultural
genealogy of the body and its legacies to modernity by tracing its
crucial redefinition from a live anatomical entity to disembodied,
mechanical and virtual analogs. The study ranges from Baroque,
pre-Cartesian interpretations of body and embodiment, to the
Cartesian elaboration of ontological difference and mind-body
dualism, and it concludes with the parodic and violent aftermath of
this legacy to the French Enlightenment. It engages work by
philosophical authors such as Montaigne, Descartes and La Mettrie,
as well as literary works by d'Urf+, Corneille and the Marquis de
Sade. The examination of sexuality and the emergence of sexual
difference as a dominant mode of embodiment are central to the
book's overall design. The work is informed by philosophical
accounts of the body (Nietzsche, Foucault, Merleau-Ponty), by
feminist theory (Butler, Irigaray, Bordo), as well as by literary
and cultural historians (Scarry, Stewart, Bynum, etc.) and
historians of science (Canguilhem, Pagel, and Temkin), among
others. It will appeal to scholars of literature, philosophy,
French studies, critical theory, feminist theory, cultural
historians and historians of science and technology. Dalia Judovitz
is Professor of French, Emory University. She is also author of
Unpacking Duchamp: Art in Transit and Subjectivity and
Representation in Decartes: The Origins of Modernity.
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