The first major scholarly investigation into the rich history and ambiguous status of the body as a written object, this interdisciplinary study surveys varied forms of corporeal writing, imprinting and marking in France in the early modern period. Author Katherine Dauge-Roth demonstrates that the rise in the importance of body marks that takes place in France from the late sixteenth century through early eighteenth centuries must be understood in relationship to the growing development of written and print culture, and a specifically early modern science of signs. The book's five chapters bring to the fore ways in which writing on, printing, or marking paper, fabric, coins and other material goods interacted dynamically with practices of corporeal marking during the period, and how together they signaled both profound change taking place in early modern society and anxiety over it. Drawing from work in the fields of literature, history, gender studies, anthropology and sociology, Dauge-Roth analyzes the use of writing on the body in the popular, religious and judicial realms as a tool for the expression of individual or group identity and state control. Bringing together both primary sources and scholarly work on corporeal marking in popular religion, demonology, mysticism, medicine, art history, economic history, judicial history, travel writing and fiction, this study makes connections between diverse practices of bodily writing, painting a detailed picture of their specific cultural meanings and functions. Viewing the body as a textual object, Signing the Body in Early Modern France shows how the skin itself became the tablature of an era of profound cultural and social changes.
Table of Contents to come.