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Animals Inside: Anatomy, Interiority And Virtue In The Early Modern Dutch Republic

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Chapter Summary

It has been argued that from the sixteenth century onwards, as a result of the "anatomical renaissance", people increasingly imagined their personhood (that is his being mortal, fragile, prone to illness and the product of a divine plan) in anatomical terms. This chapter discusses the early modern phenomenon of animals living and breeding inside human bodies, which was widely known at the time as the "Bosom Serpent". It looks at contemporary physiological explanations of how animals can end up inside humans. The chapter also discusses the alleged appearance of "animals inside" in the cultural and political context of the early eighteenth-century Dutch Republic. It focuses on the work of Dutch anatomist Frederik Ruysch, whose anatomical cabinets were internationally known and admired. The chapter also highlights two aspects: (1) worms embodying pain and discomfort and (2) the occurrence of worms in relation to the female body.

Keywords: anatomical research; Bosom Serpent; early modern Dutch Republic; Frederik Ruysch; living animals

10.1163/ej.9789004176218.i-228.17
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004176218.i-228.17
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