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Polarities of the Body | CHH Annual Lecture 2018

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Council Room

Strand Campus

King's College London

United Kingdom

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Polarities of the Body in Literature, the Visual Arts, and Medicine
Paola Spinozzi | Department of Humanistic Studies, University of Ferrara


Centre for Humanities and Health ANNUAL LECTURE 2018


Ir•regularity, as•symmetry, and im•balance inform our perceptions of the body. While referring to a physical material body, corporeality also evokes what is extracorporeal, immaterial, and intangible. Excess and defect, illness, flaws, and decay are perceived as structural as well as symbolic deviations from a sense of archetypal proportion and beauty, health and fitness. Classical / ideal / normal / normative / disabled / deformed / deviant / aging / transgendered will be explored as categories of thought and representation gaining momentum at specific times in history. The aim is not to illustrate how the body has been perceived in various centuries. Rather, it is to identify which conceptual polarities have triggered specific early modern to contemporary appreciations of the body in literature, the visual arts, and medicine.

The works of Thomas More, Andreas Vesalius, Thomas Browne, Jonathan Swift, William Hogarth, William Morris, Virginia Woolf and Antonia Byatt will be explored to illustrate how they have been able to capture the physical and metaphysical polarities around which certain ways of thinking the body would take shape, proliferate, and mutate in scientific and humanistic thought.


After the lecture, attendees will be invited to join us for a wine reception.

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Council Room

Strand Campus

King's College London

United Kingdom

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