Monstrous Bodies/Political Monstrosities in Early Modern Europe

Monstrous Bodies/Political Monstrosities in Early Modern Europe

Edited by Laura Lunger Knoppers, Joan B. Landes

Multi-disciplinary in approach and cross-European in scope, this richly illustrated book features new links between the political and the monstrous in the early modern period. Emphasizing the importance of the visual in the culture of the monstrous, the book presents a range of striking engravings, woodcuts, broadsides, and anatomical works. Some of the most respected scholars of early modern Europe explore monstrous bodies in descriptions of aberrant births and grotesque anatomies, appropriations of classical or biblical beasts and harlots, satire, myth, and science fiction.

Canonical writings on monstrosity by Aristotle, Ambroise Paré, Rabelais, Montaigne, and Mary Shelley are juxtaposed to less familiar treatments by Calvin, Luther, and Andrew Marvell, among others. This volume challenges established narratives in which modern science and medicine, sustained by enlightened reason and secularization, progressively contain and even "normalize" all monsters. Instead, these essays stress the continual reinvention and polemical applications of the monstrous in the early modern period. Monsters emerge as a rich subject for not only the history of science, but also political and religious history, literary studies, visual studies, and the history of popular culture.