Thesis ID: CBB361834904

Monsters in the Cabinet: Anatomical Collecting, Embryology, and Bodily Difference in Holland, 1664-1850 (2022)


Linker, Beth (Advisor)
Ray, Sara (Author)

Linker, Beth
University of Pennsylvania
Publication date: 2022
Language: English

Publication Date: 2022
Physical Details: 283

Monsters in the Cabinet uses the historical collection of abnormal fetuses to examine how scientific knowledge about non-normative bodies was produced. It asks how the collection, anatomical study, and comparison of real embryos and fetuses with congenital abnormalities—once called monsters—produced scientific knowledge which was embedded with claims about how a body’s form marked its place in the natural and social orders. The dissertation uses a range of Dutch sources, such as the records of midwives, museum collections, public health topographies, and scientific publications. These reveal the networks, scientific practices, and conceptual frameworks that transformed a fetal body into a research object from which knowledge about nature and physiology could be extracted. Seeking to understand the historical relationship between “monstrous births” and disability, the dissertation shows how the scientific knowledge and professional expertise gained from the study of fetal bodies was applied to living people by medical practitioners. It demonstrates that the comparative, synthetic, and material study of “monstrous” bodies was the basis upon which a normal model of development was scientifically produced. Moreover, anatomical preparations elevated the scope and authority of medical expertise in a way that endowed physicians with substantial bureaucratic influence in the early-nineteenth century, particularly with regards to public health initiatives addressing infant and maternal mortality and poor relief for disabled citizens.

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Authors & Contributors
Jorink, Eric
Knoeff, Rina
Margócsy, Dániel
Rooy, Laurens de
Bates, Alan W.
Bogaard, Han van den
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Micrologus: Natura, Scienze e Società Medievali
Social History of Medicine
College Publications
Duke University Press
L'Erma di Bretschneider
MIT Press
Primavera Pers
University of Chicago Press
Collectors and collecting
Human body
Teratology; monsters
Natural history
Ruysch, Frederick
Diderot, Denis
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Petiver, James
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
Early modern
19th century
16th century
Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Leiden (Netherlands)
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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