Staging Anatomies: Dissection and Spectacle in Early Stuart Tragedy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Staging Anatomies

Dissection and Spectacle in Early Stuart Tragedy, 1st Edition

By Hillary M. Nunn


248 pages

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Hillary M. Nunn here traces the connections between the London public's interest in medical dissection and the changing cultural significance of bloodshed on the early Stuart playhouse stage. Considering the playhouses' role within the social world of early modern London, Nunn explores the influence of public dissection upon the presentation of human bodies in well-known plays such as King Lear, as well as in a wide range of often neglected early Stuart tragedies like The Second Maiden's Tragedy and Revenge for Honour. In addition to dramatic texts, the study draws heavily on anatomy treatises and popular pamphlets of the time. Incorporating views of anatomy's significance from a wide range of sources, this study shows the ways in which early Stuart dramatists called upon Londoners' increasing fascination with anatomical dissection to shape the staging of their tragedies.


'Nunn conducts a thorough review of the secondary literature on anatomical thinking in the early modern period. For those who are not familiar with this material, she has performed a useful service by synthesizing it.' Renaissance Quarterly ’… deserves to be an influential study… This often fascinating and engaging study invites related discussion for earlier Tudor literature.’ The Year's Work in English Studies '… Nunn draws fascinating parallels between the performances of playwrights and anatomists… Nunn’s book draws consistent and fascinating linkages between the spectacles of the laboratory and the theater.' Eighteenth-Century Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: reading beyond the lines: reanimating early modern anatomy; The life of the city: bodies and boundaries in early Stuart London; The dead in action: the uses of lifeless flesh on the early Stuart stage; Lethal passivity: perspective, painting, and the staging of female bodies; Believing your eyes: witnessing, blindings, and staged violence; Epilogue: the dramatic spectacle of human anatomy; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Hillary M. Nunn is Assistant Professor of English at University of Akron, USA.

About the Series

Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity

Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity
For more than a decade now, Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity has provided a forum for groundbreaking work on the relations between literary and scientific discourses in Europe, during a period when both fields were in a crucial moment of historical formation. We welcome proposals that address the many overlaps between modes of imaginative writing typical of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”poetics, rhetoric, prose narrative, dramatic production, utopia”and the vocabularies, conceptual models, and intellectual methods of newly emergent 'scientific' fields such as medicine, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, psychology, mapping, mathematics, or natural history. In order to reflect the nature of intellectual inquiry during the period, the series is interdisciplinary in orientation and publishes monographs, edited collections, and selected critical editions of primary texts relevant to an understanding of the mutual implication of literary and scientific epistemologies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature