- 16.06.2021 - 18.06.2021
- 🇸🇪 Schweden / Stockholm
- Department of History, Stockholm University
- zur Website
Experiencing the material body in early modern Europe
In the early modern world, society, monarchy and the family were understood in the form of corporeal metaphors. The body was also the site of conflicts over life and death, sin and redemption, and the object of severe punishment and domination. Simultaneously, the period saw rapid change: the European expansion heightened tensions over the body and its transformation in relation to foreign lands, foods and peoples. Mechanical conceptions of the body as a tool governed by the mind, and insistence on the senses as the prime source of knowledge emerged in scientific research and reached a broader audience. Within this context, the body in early modernity is oftentimes described as porous, malleable and in flux. Climate, food, objects, and social interaction are all described as having had corporeal effects, from the changing of skin tones, the movement of bodily fluids, to the honing of performance to suit social and gender roles. From wherever we look, it seems that early modern people’s bodies were under significant pressure from outward influences, as well as from their own ambitions to control them. Using approaches like embodiment, performance, sensory and cognitive history, history of emotions, material culture and history of medicine, scholars have investigated various forms of corporeal experience. This workshop seeks to bring together these interlinked fields in order to reflect upon the lived-in body in early modern Europe.
We aim to draw together research from various fields to consider the status of the material body in relation to its surroundings, to gauge the significance of the various ways it was influenced externally and internally, and to better understand how early modern people of different gender, class, creed and ethnicity understood bodies to work. The workshop will engage with the body within a wide range of contexts, from the profound relationships between the macro- and microcosms, to everyday experience like work, eating and sex. We will consider the body as willed and cultivated, but also highlight the body’s vulnerabilities and propensity to sometimes do unforeseen things.