The spectre of the scalpel: the historical role of surgery and anatomy in conceptions of embodiment

Doyle, Julie (2008) The spectre of the scalpel: the historical role of surgery and anatomy in conceptions of embodiment Body and Society, 14 (1). pp. 9-30. ISSN 1357-034X

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Official URL: http://bod.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/14/1/9

Abstract

Surgery as a distinct and elite discipline of western medical science is a specifically modern development whose foundations lie in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This paper examines the historical emergence of surgery during this period and shows how developments in both the profession and practice of surgery were dependent upon the promotion of the body and its illnesses as anatomically knowable and therefore surgically manageable. The imbricated developments of surgery and anatomy constituted a change in the ontology of the body and its medical management, where disease, understood as an inaccessible internal disorder, was redefined by surgeons as locatable in specific tissues and body parts. By redefining knowledge of the body through anatomy, surgeons and their surgical practices paved the way for modern conceptions of subjectivity as embodied, inscribed by the real and imaginary actions of the surgical knife.

Item Type:Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords:surgery, anatomy, history, medicine, disease, subjectivity
Subjects:L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology > L320 Gender studies
L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology
A000 Medicine > A900 Medicine not elsewhere classified
DOI (a stable link to the resource):10.1177/1357034X07087528
Faculties:Faculty of Arts > School of Arts and Media
ID Code:7124
Deposited By:Julie Doyle
Deposited On:04 May 2010
Last Modified:23 Apr 2012 15:36

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