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Anxieties of Interiority and Dissection in Early Modern Spain

Anxieties of Interiority and Dissection in Early Modern Spain

Series: Toronto Iberic
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 288
  • Book Info
    Anxieties of Interiority and Dissection in Early Modern Spain
    Book Description:

    Anxieties of Interiority and Dissection in Early Modern Spainbrings the study of Europe's "culture of dissection" to the Iberian peninsula, presenting a neglected episode in the development of the modern concept of the self.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1889-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Dissective Narratives
    (pp. 3-18)

    This book examines what I call “dissective narratives,” texts written in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain that resort to anatomical methods to expose the interiority of a fabricated Other that is to be sacrificed. I contend that dissective narratives are informed by an anxiety resulting from a widespread awareness of complex interiors in the oppressive ambience of the early modern Spanish state.¹ They are osmotic exercises that try to re-establish the balance between the inside and the outside – between the individual and the state – through the creation of dissective scenarios in which sacrificial victims have their interiors exposed. The narratives describe...

  6. 1 Dissection and Interiority: The Case of Spain
    (pp. 19-40)

    Interiority has traditionally been understood as a series of processes inside the body that imply an interaction between the material (or physical) and the immaterial (or psychological) – the last term used in the modern as well as in the etymological sense that refers to the soul, or vital spirit. Because of the opaque materiality of the body and the subtle nature of the inner processes, these are not visible to outside observers, who can gain access to them only indirectly through the subject’s speech, actions, and gestures. In the early modern period, anatomy for the first time offered the theoretical...

  7. 2 Fray Luis de Granada’s Ill-fated Defence of the Inner Man
    (pp. 41-67)

    Granada exposed the embodied interiority of Christian origins to the new discourse of anatomical science.¹ The results were dissective narratives that followed the martyrological pattern of innocence: no matter how crude and thorough the inspection was, only God’s work could be found inside. The theme of undeserved scrutiny may be connected to circumstances of the generation to which he belonged. He was part of the cohort born in the early years of the newly created Spanish state. He and his generation were educated in the intellectually tolerant years of Charles V during the first half of the sixteenth century but...

  8. 3 Quevedo and the Interiority of the Body Politic
    (pp. 68-104)

    Francisco de Quevedo is not a forerunner of the modern form of autonomous interiority that relies on one’s own reason as the ultimate authority. He was suspicious – even dismissive in the case of the lower classes – of an autonomous subject. Furthermore, his belief in an absolutist monarchy of divine roots as the best government is incompatible with the independence that represents modern subjectivity. His sharp tongue and criticism of those in power, even if they cost him dearly, do not qualify as the systematic attitude of distrust towards external forms of authority that characterizes the modern intellectual who dwells in...

  9. 4 Cervantes’s Mechanical Interiors and Zayas’s Female Anatomies
    (pp. 105-165)

    The texts studied in this chapter lack direct allusions to anatomical dissection but are, nonetheless, true dissective narratives dealing with personal privacy and its exposure. As was the case in previous texts, they describe the punitive inspection of interiorities and reactions to the inspection ranging from resistance to compliance in highly embodied terms. They also conclude with the inquisitive project’s failure to establish the subjects’ innocence or guilt against the intrinsic complexity and resilient opacity of the interiors. To represent these kinds of texts I chose Cervantes’s and Zayas’snovelasbecause they are emblematic instances of a newly born genre...

  10. Conclusion: Compliant Resistance
    (pp. 166-174)

    In spite of the clear differences in their tone and content, the texts by Granada, Quevedo, Cervantes, and Zayas examined in the previous chapters share clear traces of their authors’ anxiety of interiority, of their awareness of having unfathomable interiors capable of harbouring dangerous contents. They create a sacrificial Other endowed with a complex interiority that is exposed by methods akin to those of contemporary anatomical dissection. The appeasement of anxiety in this Girardian exercise complies with what Hillman calls the sceptic’s impulse “to open the body of others in place of – or as a cover story for – allowing access...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 175-228)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 229-260)
  13. Index
    (pp. 261-274)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-276)