American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History (Corporealities: Discourses of Disability)
By: Jenell Johnson (author)Hardback
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In 1935, lobotomy, one of the most infamous procedures in the history of medicine, was heralded as a "miracle cure" by newspapers and magazines, as they hoped that this "soul surgery" would empty the nation's perennially blighted asylums. But the practice soon fell from favor, as the operation became characterized as a cruel practice with suspiciously authoritarian overtones. Only twenty years after the first operation, lobotomists once praised for "therapeutic courage" were condemned for their barbarity. American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History studies representations of lobotomy in a wide variety of cultural texts to offer a rhetorical and cultural history of the infamous procedure and its continued effect on American medicine. Author Jenell Johnson has uncovered previously discarded texts including science fiction, horror films, political polemics, and conspiracy theories that illustrate lobotomy's entanglement with social and political narratives and how they contributed to a powerful image of the operation that persists to this day.
In a provocative challenge to the history of medicine, American Lobotomy argues that lobotomy's rhetorical history is crucial to understanding lobotomy's medical history, offering a case study of how medicine accumulates meaning as it circulates in public culture, and it stands as an argument for the need to understand biomedicine as a culturally situated practice.
Jenell Johnson is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
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- ID: 9780472119448
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