1st Edition

Natural and Artificial Bodies in Early Modern England Literature, Natural Philosophy, Objects

By Alvin Snider Copyright 2025
    248 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book brings contemporary ways of reconceptualizing the human relationship to things into conversation with seventeenth-century writing, exploring how the literature of the period intersected with changing understandings of the conceptual structure of matter, and how human beings might reconfigure their place in a web of non-human relations. Focusing on texts that cross the frontier between literature and science, Snider recovers the material and body worlds of seventeenth-century culture as treated in poetry, natural philosophy, medical treatises, comedy, and prose fiction. He shows how a range of writers understood and theorized “matter,” “bodies,” and “spirits” as characters in complex and sometimes bizarre scenarios involving human relationships to the phenomenal world. The logic that made matter subject to uniform theorizing facilitated a crossing of boundaries between the human and nonhuman and became a persistent figure of explanation at the time when distinctions between the natural and the artificial were undergoing reformulation.

    Introduction 1. Knowing Things 2. Animate and Inanimate Bodies in Herrick’s Hesperides 3. ‘To Starve in Ice’: The Climates of Paradise Lost 4. Transfusion of Blood 5. Philosophical Diet and The Blazing World


    Alvin Snider taught at universities in Canada, the United States, and France. He is the author of Origin and Authority in Seventeenth-Century England: Bacon, Milton, Butler, and Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at the University of Iowa, USA.