Vital Matters: Eighteenth-Century Views of Conception, Life, and Death
Edited by Helen Deutsch and Mary Terrall
Published by Toronto University Press, 2012
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.