Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture

Hardcover | March 15, 2011

byLouise Noble

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Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture examines an important moment in the long history of the medical use and abuse of the human body. In early modern Protestant England, the fragmented corpse was processed, circulated, and ingested as a valuable drug in a medical economy underpinned by a brutal judicial system. In a meticulous engagement with an extensive range of medical, religious, and literary texts, Louise Noble shows how early modern writers became obsessed with medicinal cannibalism and its uncanny link to the contested Eucharist sacrament. In the process, Noble points out startling continuities between early modern and contemporary medical consumptions of the body.

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Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture examines an important moment in the long history of the medical use and abuse of the human body. In early modern Protestant England, the fragmented corpse was processed, circulated, and ingested as a valuable drug in a medical economy underpinned by a brutal judicial ...

Louise Noble is Lecturer in English at the University of New England, Australia. She is currently working on a new project on the hydrosocial cycle in early modern rural England. 
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.99 × 5.83 × 0.77 inPublished:March 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230110274

ISBN - 13:9780230110274

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Table of Contents

The Pharmacological Corpse: The Practice and Rhetoric of Bodily Consumptions * The Mummy Cure: Fresh Unspotted Cadavers * Medicine, Cannibalism and Revenge Justice: Titus Andronicus * Flesh Economies in Foreign Worlds: The Unfortunate Traveller and The Sea Voyage * Divine Matter and the Cannibal Dilemma: The Faerie Queene and Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions * The Fille Vièrge as Pharmakon: Othello and the Anniversaries * Trafficking the Human Body: Late Modern Medical Cannibalism

Editorial Reviews

 “Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture is one of those rare books that transforms one's understanding of cultural history. Its originality lies in the way it systematically opens up the bizarre contradiction in early modern attitudes to cannibalism, which enabled the extreme horror of anthrophagous violence that informs the fantasies of new world discovery to co-exist with Europeans' routine consumption of human tissue in the form of pharmaceutical 'mummy'. In the process Noble's analysis generates superb close readings of major literary texts, rendering them (as the best criticism always does) fascinatingly unfamiliar.”--Michael Neill, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Auckland “Great sensitivity, learning, and empathy for the medical practices of the past are on rich display in Medical Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture. Noble uncovers the almost taboo subject of the early modern mummy—the medical corpse which provided healing fluids revered by medical practitioners all over early modern Europe for its potency. Students of Shakespeare will remember Othello’s handkerchief, dyed in mummy conserved of “maidens’ hearts.” But Noble follows the trail of mummia much further, unpacking the literary tradition elsewhere in Shakespeare, in The Faerie Queene and Donne’s Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions in order to show its metaphorical suggestiveness for the body’s transmutations over time. Noble wants to show the natural desire for health and wholeness that underlies the bizarre early modern uses of the medical corpse but she almost makes a compelling case for connections between early modern uses of corpse matter and the contemporary traffic in body parts for organ donation and transplantation. Hers is a narrative of wonder and weirdness made understandable, a fascinating case study of the body’s inexhaustible semiotic potential in the hands of ingenious literary and medical practitioners.”-- Gail Kern Paster, Director, Folger Shakespeare Library“This is an important book. Noble's study of early modern literary and dramatic treatments of ‘corpse pharmacology,’ as she calls it, not only persuades the reader that the medicinal consumption of dead human flesh was central to the early modern cultural imaginary; it also makes a compelling case for why the early modern trade in ‘mummy’ is of pressing importance to us now.”--Jonathan Gil Harris, Professor of English, George Washington University