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Books of the Body: Anatomical Ritual and Renaissance Learning
by Andrea Carlino
translated by John Tedeschi and Anne C. Tedeschi
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Cloth: 978-0-226-09287-4 | Paper: 978-0-226-09288-1
Library of Congress Classification QM33.4.C3613 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 611.009031

We usually see the Renaissance as a marked departure from older traditions, but Renaissance scholars often continued to cling to the teachings of the past. For instance, despite the evidence of their own dissections, which contradicted ancient and medieval texts, Renaissance anatomists continued to teach those outdated views for nearly two centuries.

In Books of the Body, Andrea Carlino explores the nature and causes of this intellectual inertia. On the one hand, anatomical practice was constrained by a reverence for classical texts and the belief that the study of anatomy was more properly part of natural philosophy than of medicine. On the other hand, cultural resistance to dissection and dismemberment of the human body, as well as moral and social norms that governed access to cadavers and the ritual of their public display in the anatomy theater, also delayed anatomy's development.

A fascinating history of both Renaissance anatomists and the bodies they dissected, this book will interest anyone studying Renaissance science, medicine, art, religion, and society.

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