Eighteenth-century questions about the properties essential to life often explored the boundary between the physical world of the body and the immaterial world of the mind and soul. Locating materialism within the larger history of ideas, Vital Matters examines how and why eighteenth-century scientists, philosophers, writers, and artists questioned nature and its animating principles. In this volume, interdisciplinary essays by premier scholars in literary studies, art history, and the history of science and medicine analyse a wide range of subjects, including ghosts and funerary practices, dissection and digestion, automata, and monstrous births. Featuring new approaches to literary texts such as Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy and paintings such as Girodet's Eternal Sleep, as well as new research on cases from the history of medicine and the history of science, Vital Matters reconsiders Enlightenment oppositions between body and mind, brain and soul, life and death, and the physical and the abstract.
Helen Deutsch is a professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. Mary Terrall is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Introduction Helen Deutsch and Mary Terrall 1 Living with Lucretius Jonathan Kramnick 2 Dismantl'd Souls: The Verse Epistle, Embodied Subjectivity, and Poetic Animation Helen Deutsch 3 Girodet and the Eternal Sleep Kevin Chua 4 Tristram Shandy and the Art of Conception Raymond Stephanson 5 Material Impressions: Conception, Sensibility and Inheritance Mary Terrall 6 Misconceiving the Heir: Mind and Matter in the Warming-Pan Propaganda Corrinne Harol 7 From the Man-Machine to the Automation-Man: The Enlightenment Origins of the Mechanistic Imagery of Humanity Minsoo Kang 8 The 'fair Savage': Empiricism and Essence in Sarah Fielding's The History of Ophelia Helen Thompson 9 Food and Feeling: 'Digestive Force' and the Nature of Morbidity in Vitalist Medicine Elizabeth A. Williams 10 The divine touch, or touching divines: John Hunter, David Hume and the Bishop of Durham's rectum Simon Chaplin 11 The Value of a Dead Body Anita Guerrini 12 Noticing Death: Funeral Invitations and Obituaries in Early Modern Britain Lorna Clymer Contributors Index