“Bodies of Knowledge: Anatomy, Complexity and the Invention of Organizational Systems, 1500-1850″ Abstracts: Feb. 1, 2010 | cfp.english.upenn.edu
by Jessica C. Murphy
We are seeking proposals for a collection of essays that will explore the many ways in which early modern understandings of the body created a new paradigm for the theoretical/artificial organization of human knowledge in the sciences, philosophy, logic, literature and the arts.
Abstracts should be 250 words in length. They must communicate a clear connection to the central theme of this collection. To be considered for publication, proposals should be sent to: email@example.com. The deadline for submitting abstracts is February 1, 2010.
Call for Papers: “Bodies of Knowledge: Anatomy, Complexity and the Invention of Organizational Systems, 1500-1850”
Beginning with the remarkable work of Andreas Vesalius 1543, anatomists sought to create new narrative arrangements that mimicked the internal organization of the body. In the years following the publication of Vesalius’ De fabrica, it became clear that the systematic arrangement of anatomical narratives provided an opportunity for examining a variety of topics across many disciplines. As a result, many authors adopted the anatomy as a means of describing/mapping the structural particulars of nearly every imaginable subject. In an attempt to assign meaningful connections to the seemingly discrete phenomena of the ‘rational’ cosmos, scientists, philosophers and artists looked to the human body as an organizational reference, citing the internal structure of the human body as a prime example of an integrated system. The body, they argued, was an enclosed space delineated by the flesh, making the investigation of its inner structure relatively straightforward. What they discovered inside the human body, however, was a degree of complexity previously unsuspected. In the attempt to arrange distinct parts/organs of the body into groups according to their specialized, collaborative functions, anatomists exposed the limitations of traditional modes of scientific narration. Faced with mounting complexities, they tried to describe the human body as an order of simple and distinct parts that could be arranged into increasingly compounded configurations systems. Taken together, these systems contributed to the integrity interrelatedness of the physical whole.
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