Body, Gender, Senses. Subversive Expressions in Early Modern Art and Literature

March 2024

Carin Franzén and Johanna Vernqvist (ed.), De Gruyter, 2024.

The body, touch and its sensations are present, sometimes viewed in contradictory ways, both expressed, visualized, and rejected, in early modern art and literature. In seven essays moving from the 16th to the mid-18th century, and from Italy and Spain to France and Sweden, this volume explores strategies used by early modern women poets, philosophers, and artists in order to create subversive expressions of the body, gender and the senses. Showing how body and soul, the carnal and the divine, the senses and the mind, could be represented as intertwined and dependent on each other in various ways, it gives due attention to European women writers and artists that in unconventional ways responded to the period’s two main intellectual and philosophical attitudes – Epicurean and Stoic – towards the body and its senses. These attitudes not only intersect in the period’s discussions of virtue and other moral phenomena, but are central to critical assessment of the relations between emotions, perception, and reason. By following this topic from a gender perspective, the book highlights other forms of subjectivity than the ones usually related to the early modern period’s dominating subjectivation of female bodies, thinking and desires.