A Cultural History of the Human Body in the Enlightenment

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The Enlightenment was a time when people began to take stock of their intrinsic worth as individuals. Of course, slaves were still property, servants and apprentices were indentured, daughters belonged to fathers and brothers, wives to husbands and paupers were tethered to their parish. But change was in the air as increased population, migration and urbanization began to reshape both national and personal identity. The birth of modern society in the Enlightenment demanded a rethinking of the human body in all its forms, from conception to death and beyond. The history of midwives, medics, colonialists, cross-dressers, corpses, vampires, witches, beggars, beauties, body-snatchers, incest and immaculate conceptions - all reveal how the body changed in this age of turbulence and transition. A Cultural History of the Human Body in the Enlightenment presents an overview of the period with essays on the centrality of the human body in birth and death, health and disease, sexuality, beauty and concepts of the ideal, bodies marked by gender, race, class and age, cultural representations and popular beliefs and the self and society.