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Imagining the Body in Early Modern Europe

Instructor: Dr. William H. York

Course Content:
In this course we will study the history of beliefs and attitudes toward the human body in European society. Our primary focus will be directed toward scientific efforts to understand the human body through anatomical investigation from antiquity through the Renaissance. Therefore, we will examine the practice of animal and human dissection and how scientists justified the practice of cutting open bodies and we will contrast these arguments with the scientific and cultural beliefs that opposed the practice of human dissection. We will also be concerned with the development of artistic techniques of scientific illustration used to convey knowledge about the body. Finally, we will explore the ways in which human dissection influenced the representation of the body in art and literature in early modern Europe, a period characterized by one scholar as the "culture of anatomy."

Note: This course counts as an elective course for the minor in the History and Philosophy of Science.