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NYAM Aristotle’s Masterpiece: Reflecting On The Material Text
January 28 @ 11:00 am EST
Sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine
Aristotle’s Masterpiece, first published in 1684, was a steady seller into the 20th century, advising readers about sex and babies. Over the course of writing a book about the Masterpiece, Professor Mary Fissell looked at hundreds of copies. In her talk she will reflect on the relationship between evidence drawn from the material text, and that of readership from other sources.
About the Speaker
Mary E. Fissell, PhD,
Mary E. Fissell is the inaugural J. Mario Molina Professor in the History of Medicine in the Department of the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University, with appointments in the history of science and the history departments. Her scholarly work focuses on how ordinary people in early modern England understood health, healing, and the natural world. More recently, she has focused on how ordinary people understood their bodies, particularly reproduction, by looking at cheap print. Vernacular Bodies (Oxford, 2004) explored how everyday ideas about making babies mediated large scale social changes, because talking about the reproductive female body was also a way to talk about gender relations and thus all relations of power. Her current work continues to examine vernacular knowledge—ideas about the natural world that ordinary people used, made, shaped, and practiced. She connects the histories of gender, the body, and sexuality with those of popular culture and cheap print in the Atlantic world in a project focusing on an extraordinary popular medical book called Aristotle’s Masterpiece. First published in 1684, it was still for sale in sleazy London sex shops in the 1920s, having retained its currency for over 2 centuries.
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