‘Prosthesis’ denotes a rhetorical ‘addition’ to a pre-existing ‘beginning’, a ‘replacement’ for that which is ‘defective or absent’, a technological mode of ‘correction’ that reveals a history of corporeal and psychic discontent. Recent scholarship has given weight to these multiple meanings of ‘prosthesis’ as tools of analysis for literary and cultural criticism. The study of pre-modern prosthesis, however, often registers as an absence in contemporary critical discourse.
This collection seeks to redress this omission, reconsidering the history of prosthesis and its implications for contemporary critical responses to, and uses of, it. The book demonstrates the significance of notions of prosthesis in medieval and early modern theological debate, Reformation controversy, and medical discourse and practice. It also tracks its importance for imaginings of community and of the relationship of self and other, as performed on the stage, expressed in poetry, charms, exemplary and devotional literature, and as fought over in the documents of religious and cultural change. Interdisciplinary in nature, the book engages with contemporary critical and cultural theory and philosophy, genre theory, literary history, disability studies, and medical humanities, establishing prosthesis as a richly productive analytical tool in the pre-modern, as well as the modern, context. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Textual Practice journal.
Table of Contents
Foreword 1. Fragments for a medieval theory of prosthesis 2. Prosthetic ecologies: vulnerable bodies and the dismodern subject in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 3. Literary genre, medieval studies, and the prosthesis of disability 4. Prosthesis and reformation: the Black Rubric and the reinvention of kneeling 5. Wearing powerful words and objects: healing prosthetics 6. Prosthesis and the performance of beginnings in The Woman in the Moon 7. ‘Happy, and without a name’: prosthetic identities on the early modern stage 8. Prosthetic encounter and queer intersubjectivity in The Merchant of Venice Afterword Afterword
Chloe Porter is Lecturer in English Literature in the School of English, and a member of the Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies at the University of Sussex, UK.
Katie L. Walter is Lecturer in Medieval English Literature in the School of English, and a member of the Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies at the University of Sussex, UK.
Margaret Healy is Professor of Literature and Culture in the School of English, and a member of the Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies, at the University of Sussex, UK.