The Anatomy of Body Worlds

Critical Essays on the Plastinated Cadavers of Gunther von Hagens

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About the Book

Since its Tokyo debut in 1995, Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds exhibition has been visited by more than 25 million people at museums and science centers across North America, Europe, and Asia. Preserved through von Hagens’ unique process of plastination, the bodies shown in the controversial exhibit are posed to mimic life and art, from a striking re-creation of Rodin’s The Thinker, to a preserved horse and its human rider, a basketball player, and a reclining pregnant woman—complete with fetus in its eighth month. This interdisciplinary volume analyzes Body Worlds from a number of perspectives, describing the legal, ethical, sociological, and religious concerns which seem to accompany the exhibition as it travels the world.

About the Author(s)

T. Christine Jespersen is a professor of English at Western State College of Colorado.
Alicita Rodríguez is a visiting professor of English at Western State College of Colorado.
Joseph Starr is an independent scholar who works as a freelance writer and translator.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by T. Christine Jespersen , Alicita Rodríguez and Joseph Starr
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: 7 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3656-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Introduction

ALICITA RODRÍGUEZ AND JOSEPH STARR      1

Section One: A Beauty Salon for Bodily Interiors

The Plastinates’ Narrative

JOSEPH STARR      8

Afterlife, but Not as We Know It: Melancholy, Post-Biological Ontology, and Plastinated Bodies

NATALIA LIZAMA      16

Locating the Sublime

LISA NEVÁREZ      29

Take Me: The Rhetoric of Donation

AVIVA BRIEFEL      44

Individualist Etiologies: Environmental Health, Biological Risk, and Medical Display

REBECCA ONION      55

Section Two: The Usual Gruesome Anatomical Apparitions

The Persistence of Tradition in Anatomical Museums

STEPHEN JOHNSON      68

Illuminating the Soul: Panopticism and the Freak Show

PEDRO PONCE      86

The Amethyst Seal: Anatomy and Identity in Bentham and von Hagens

PATRICIA PIERSON      94

Section Three: The Resurrection of Excoriated Bodies

Affecting Bodies

NATALIE LOVELESS      106

Worrying About Democratic Values: Body Worlds in German Context, 1996–2004

PETER M. MCISAAC      121

The Echo of German Horror Films

ALEXANDRA LUDEWIG      136

Touching the Corpse: The Unmaking of Memory in the Body Museum

ULI LINKE      150

Section Four: Disharmonious Bodily Openings

Forced Impregnation and Masculinist Utopia

T. CHRISTINE JESPERSEN AND ALICITA RODRÍGUEZ      166

The Politics of Fetal Display

CHRISTIAN DUCOMB      176

Corpse-less: A Battle with Abjection

ELIZABETH SIMON RUCHTI      189

Section Five: Aesthetic and Instructive but Not Morally Offensive

Anatomy Without Integrity

RUTH LEVY GUYER      202

Adoration, Veneration, Plastination: Theo-Liturgical Reflections

PAUL WOJDA      211

Twilife: The Art and Science of Consuming Death

LUCIA TANASSI      228

Emergent Bodies: Human, All Too Human, Posthuman

ARA OSTERWEIL and DAVID BAUMFLEK      240

About the Contributors      259

Index      263