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This Mortal Coil: The Human Body in History and Culture Illustrated Edition
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"Fay Bound Alberti proves again that she is an exquisite storyteller and compelling historian. This Mortal Coil is an enthralling history of our bodies." --Joanna Bourke, author of The Story of Pain
"Alberti, senior research fellow in history at Queen Mary University of London, impressively tackles the enigmatic conceptions of the human body through the ages... Recommended." --CHOICE
About the Author
Fay Bound Alberti is Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow in History at Queen Mary University of London.
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0199793395
- ISBN-13 : 978-0199793396
- Dimensions : 9.4 x 0.9 x 6.4 inches
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition (July 25, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top review from the United States
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This volume works on several levels and could, I think, be of interest to a reader on any or all of them. One overarching theme is the lamentation over the loss of the treatment of the whole body, indeed the whole person, because of today's (over?)emphasis on specialization. Alberti stops short of actually wanting to go back to those days, without all of the knowledge the specializations have provided, but certainly wants to find a way to treat the entire patient through a more coordinated use of specialists. It is not really the scope of this work to attempt to figure the logistics for such a system but such a desire is strong.
Changes in how and why we perceive our bodies differently are presented in chapters that are, well, specialized for lack of a better way of saying it. Each chapter is about an organ (or the system associated with an organ) and through cultural and medical examples we are presented with how things have changed. The example I think everyone knows and understands to some extent is the shift from the heart as the location of our "soul" or identity to our brain (or mind) as the seat. While some phrases remain in popular discourse, such as feeling love in the heart, we know now that that is not the case.
I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in the study of the body in society or culture (a field that has been active for well over 50 years, not just the past 20) as well as those interested in the pathology of the body as it is often portrayed in popular culture. This book is academic in topic but written for a general audience with a minimal amount of jargon or complex theory.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.