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The Variable Body in History


Chris Mounsey and Stan Booth

The essays in this book explore the different ways the body has been experienced and interpreted in history, from the medieval to the modern period. Challenging the negative perceptions that the term ‘disability’ suggests, the essays together present a mosaic of literary representations of bodies and accounts of real lives lived in their particularity and peculiarity. The book does not attempt to be exhaustive, but rather it celebrates the fact that it is not. By presenting a group of individual cases from different periods in history, the collection demonstrates that any overarching way of describing bodies, or unifying description of the experience of the myriad ways of being in a body, is reductive and unhelpful. The variability of each body in its context is our subject.
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About the author


CHRIS MOUNSEY worked for several years in theatre before an accident and four months’ immobility, in which reading was the only possible occupation, led to an academic career. Degrees in philosophy, comparative literature and English from the University of Warwick followed, and a doctorate on Blake founded an interest in the literature of the eighteenth century. Professor Mounsey, who now teaches at the University of Winchester, is author of Christopher Smart: Clown of God and Being the Body of Christ and editor of Presenting Gender, Queer People, Developments in the Histories of Sexualities and The Idea of Disability in the Eighteenth Century. STAN BOOTH is a PhD student at the University of Winchester. He worked for many years as a local government manager advising members of the community of a disadvantaged area of London. Seeing the credit crunch coming and the obvious impact it would have, he returned to learning, undertaking an MSc in Health and Disease and from there re-entered academia. His doctoral project explores the discourse of physical paralysis in the eighteenth century with a cultural studies emphasis that allows scope to explore individuals and to go beyond the notion of the typical and the predicted models.

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