2014 to 2015
Life and Limb: Technology, Surgery, and Bodily Loss in Early Modern Germany
Abstract: My project investigates early modern responses to the problems of bodily loss posed by new military technologies within the Holy Roman Empire (early modern Germany). The expansion of gunpowder warfare in the sixteenth century mutilated human bodies in a way and on a scale previously unimaginable. My project examines medical activities, textual debates and mechanical instruments developed to address the rising need for drastic surgical intervention. By reimagining surgeons as craftsmen, I argue that these hands-on responses were a mode of knowing and learning about the body, and were governed by implicit assumptions about the body and healing which can be uncovered and explored through study. My project uses healing practices as a lens through which to investigate how understandings of the body changed as bodies were reshaped by guns and scalpels.