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Title: Life and Limb: Technology, Surgery, and Bodily Loss in Early Modern Germany, 1500-1700
Authors: Hausse, Heidi
Advisors: Grafton, Anthony
Contributors: History Department
Subjects: European history
Science history
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In 1500, Germans were hesitant to manipulate the body’s shape. By 1700, experimental methods in amputation proliferated, and elite patients could obtain sophisticated mechanical limbs. My dissertation tells the story of this transformation. It focuses on Germany in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and uses medical treatises and artifacts. The expansion of gunpowder warfare caused injuries that required amputation on an unprecedented scale. The challenges of the procedure sparked new discourses about the body. And efforts to treat the loss of limbs drew members from different parts of the community to contribute their skills. The dissertation shows how technology became intertwined with the shape of the body—from the ways surgeons cut gangrenous bodies apart to the imaginative devices artisans created for amputees. It also shows that coping with the loss of a limb was an endeavor involving several social facets. The dissertation situates the struggle to treat an individual’s bodily loss within the interests, beliefs, and economic means of his or her local community. Chapter One performs a close reading of surgical treatises to introduce the mixed nature of surgery and craft. The following chapters create a narrative of the body taken apart and put back together. Chapter Two explores medical concepts of putrefaction, and uncovers the process of negotiation that the surgeon initiated with the patient’s family once he diagnosed final putrefaction. Chapter Three investigates a series of passionate debates stirred by the introduction of new amputation methods, and shows that at the root of surgeons’ disagreements were competing visions of the body. Chapter Four examines post-operation therapy, and explores surgical concepts of supplementation and rehabilitation. Chapter Five uses artifacts—mechanical hands—to tease out the existence of patients who commissioned prostheses as an act of social and economic power. Chapter Six situates extant prostheses within craft practices, and recreates the networks of artisans involved in their production. If Chapter Six attempts to read surviving prostheses, Chapter Seven turns to reading about a prosthesis. The chapter shows that rather than the design of a surgeon, a well-known publication of mechanical limbs was a byproduct of ongoing artisanal practices.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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