Front cover image for Defects : engendering the modern body

Defects : engendering the modern body

"Defects" brings together essays on the emergence of the concept of monstrosity in the eighteenth century and the ways it paralleled the emergence of notions of sexual difference. Women, declared a mid-eighteenth-century vindication, have been regarded since Aristotle as deformed amphibious things, "neither more or less than Monsters" (Beauty's Triumph 1758). This alliance of monstrosity with misogyny, along with the definition of sexual difference as aberration, is the starting point for this volume's investigation of monstrosity's cultural work in the eighteenth century and its simultaneous mapping and troubling of the range of differences. This collection investigates the conceptual and geographical mapping of early modern and Enlightenment ideas of monstrosity onto a range of differences that contested established categories. The essays consider the representations and material dimensions of phenomena as diverse as femininity and disfigurement, the material imagination and monstrous birth, ugliness as an aesthetic category, deafness and theories of sign language, and the exotic, racialized deformed. Collectively, they demonstrate that the emergence of sexual difference is inextricably intertwined with the emergence of a category of the human that is imagined and deformed, monstrous, and ugly. --
Print Book, English, ©2000
University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, ©2000
x, 332 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
9780472096985, 9780472066988, 0472096982, 0472066986
Online version:
pt. 1. Disability
Dumb Virgins, Blind Ladies, and Eunuchs: Fictions of Defect / Felicity Nussbaum
Dr. Johnson, Amelia, and the Discourse of Disability in the Eighteenth Century / Lennard J. Davis
Paper, Picture, Sign: Conversations between the Deaf, the Hard of Hearing, and Others / Nicholas Mirzoeff
pt. 2. Monstrosity
In the Bodyshop: Human Exhibition in Early Modern England / Stephen Pender
Making a Monster: Socializing Sexuality and the Monster of 1790 / Barbara M. Benedict
Monstrous Knowledge: Representing the National Body in Eighteenth-Century Ireland / Joel Reed
The Author as Monster: The Case of Dr. Johnson / Helen Deutsch
pt. 3. Imperfections
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the "Glass Revers'd" of Female Old Age / Jill Campbell
"Perfect" Flowers, Monstrous Women: Eighteenth-Century Botany and the Modern Gendered Subject / Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook
Obedient Faces: The Virtue of Deformity in Sarah Scott's Fiction / Robert W. Jones
Afterword: Liberalism, Feminism, and Defect / Cora Kaplan