Anxious Anatomy: The Conception of the Human Form in Literary and Naturalist Discourse

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SUNY Press, Aug 21, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 340 pages
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In Anxious Anatomy, Stefani Engelstein reconstructs the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century human body to offer startling new readings of major works by Goethe, Blake, Heinrich von Kleist, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen. Engelstein links research on reproduction both to the ability of organisms such as hydra, snails, and newts to replace severed heads and gouged out eyes, and also to technical advances in battlefield amputation and artificial limbs. Readings of German and British literature, alongside natural history, surgery, aesthetics, and art, illuminate the importance of investigations into the body for emerging theories of human subjectivity, gender, volition, ethical behavior, and political organization. Engelstein also demonstrates how attempts to explain the structural characteristics of the body developed into biological justifications for ideologies of race, gender, and social hierarchies.

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About the author (2008)

Stefani Engelstein is Associate Professor of German at the University of Missouri.

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