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In a historical tour de force, Roy Porter takes a critical look at representations of the body in death, disease and health, and at images of the healing arts in Britain from the mid-seventeenth to the twentieth century. Porter's key assumptions are that the human body is the chief signifier and communicator of all manner of meanings religious, moral, political and medical and that pre-scientific medicine was an art which depended heavily on ritual, rhetoric and theatre. Porter argues that great symbolic weight was attached to contrasting conceptions of the healthy and diseased body, and that such ideas were mapped onto antithetical notions of the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. With these images in mind, he explores aspects of being ill alongside the practice of medicine, paying special attention to self-presentations by physicians, surgeons and quacks, and to changes in practitioners' public identities over time. Porter also examines the wider symbolic meanings of disease and doctoring and the 'body politic'. Porter's book is packed with outrageous and amusing anecdotes portraying diseased bodies and medical practitioners alike.
|Publication date:||1st April 2003|
|Format:||Paperback / softback|
|Categories:||History of medicine,|
Until his death in 2002, Roy Porter was Professor in the Social History of Medicine at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. He was the author of many books including, most recently, Religion, Health and Suffering (1999), Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World (2000) and co-author with G. S. Rousseau of Gout: The Patrician Malady (1998).More About Roy Porter