Men, Faces, and Pain: Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery
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CitationSavoia, Paolo. 2017. Men, Faces, and Pain: Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn 1597, the Bolognese physician and anatomist Gaspare Tagliacozzi published a two-volume book on reconstructive surgery of the mutilated parts of the face, and especially noses. The technique the book described at length consisted in grafting skin taken from the upper region of the arm onto the patient’s defective nose. It was a long and painful procedure which had been invented in the fifteenth century, and continued to be hotly debated by surgeons, writers, and philosophers throughout the seventeenth century.
My dissertation explores the social and cultural history of early modern surgery by focusing on the history of this specific technique. I show how Italian and European surgeons moved between the two poles of a continuum constituted by health and beauty, and how the patients’ gender shaped the surgeons view on the human face and of the public appearance of the body. In this way, my dissertation maps the birth and the shifts in the culture of surgery and the culture of the face in the early modern period. I have approached the history of early modern reconstructive facial surgery from a variety of perspectives, making use of both archival sources and printed. My dissertation combines the methods of cultural history, microhistory, historical epistemology, and gender history to describe in the broadest possible terms the relevance of a practice and of several kinds of practitioners considered to be at the periphery of the central changes happening in the age of the “Scientific Revolution.”
Studying Tagliacozzi’s surgery in context means to correct widespread views on the birth of plastic surgery. By placing this technique in broad chronological and geographical perspective – from fifteenth century southern Italy to seventeenth century northern Europe – this project shows that the history of what we call “plastic surgery” has its roots in rituals of male honor and in deep conceptual shifts concerning the natural and the artificial. This history extends its ramifications well into the nineteenth and even the twentieth century, when plastic surgery lost its association with military practices and became an elective aesthetic practice.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41141527
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