As promised, the full version of the paper I recently presented at the Society for Textual Scholarship conference is linked below. I’ve revised it slightly, both in response to the wonderful feedback I received at the conference and to make it more readable, as it was originally intended to be heard. Please forgive the clunky documentation; I believe it is complete, but, as so often happens with conference papers, it is rather ungraceful.
Although I don’t have further plans for this particular piece, this issue will certainly continue to be a part of my general inquiry into Crooke’s book, and I welcome further insights/questions, etc. As soon as I find time, I’ll be following up on Whitney Trettien‘s excellent suggestion to take a look at some anatomical flapbooks, such as the Hardin Library’s Johann Remmelin’s Catoptrum microcosmicum (1619) here at the University of Iowa that Whitney has blogged about.
My upcoming paper for the Society for Textual Scholarship conference meeting in Chicago, March 6-8, has afforded me the opportunity to return to one of the most intriguing mysteries surrounding Mikrokosmographia and, in doing so, I’ve be able to clarify some crucial information about editions and issues of this book. To summarize the issue I’m pursuing, let me quote from my abstract:
In 1612, William Jaggard, who would later print the first folio of Shakespeare’s works, required medical treatment for syphilis. He was seen by London physician Helkiah Crooke, and although the treatment was apparently unsuccessful (Jaggard later went blind from his illness), the two men struck up an ongoing relationship. For some time Jaggard, whose father was a barber-surgeon, had been considering publishing a medical volume, and he decided to take on Crooke’s own anatomy project, Mikrokosmographia: A Description of the Body of Man, a compendium of continental anatomy knowledge that Crooke hoped would forefront the development of more advanced dissection practices in England. The first edition was published in 1615.
However, copies of Crooke’s manuscript were in circulation as early as the summer of 1614, as evidenced by the scandal it created; Crooke’s book included a full description of the female reproductive system, and it was written in the vernacular. The first fact raised the ire of the Bishop of London, the second the objections of the College of Physicians, of which Crooke was a member. The church found the illustrations and description of the female body immoral, while the physicians protested the dissemination of their specialized professional knowledge to a broad audience. To add insult to injury, Crooke dedicated his book to the city’s other group of medical professionals, the barber-surgeons. While the physicians were university-educated members of the upper class, the barber-surgeons trained by apprenticeship with little or no formal schooling.
The printing of the anatomy was a substantial project; Crooke writes in his “Praeface to the Chyrurgeons” that he had to limit the book’s size because, at just over 1,000 pages, it had grown “too chargeable for the printer.” It seems clear that both author and publisher had much to lose, and the protests regarding Mikrokosmographia were adamant. The church demanded that the College reign in its errant member; the College called for Crooke to appear before them, and when he failed to show, they in turn called for Jaggard; his wife appeared in the blind printer’s place. The College threatened that if the offending sections (Books Four and Five) were not removed from the book, they would burn all copies of the volume upon publication.
Despite all this, Crooke and Jaggard printed the book in its original form. Astonishingly, there were no repercussions.
What adds further intrigue to what turned out to be apparently empty threats from the Bishop of London and College of Physicians is that the second edition of Crooke’s book, first published in 1631 while Crooke was still alive and well but by a different publisher (as Jaggard had died in 1623), was censored to some extent. The main alteration I am focusing on is one of the offending illustrations, that of an anatomized woman’s torso, sans head, sans arms, sans legs… but not sans everything. In the first edition of Mikrokosmographia (printed 1615, 1616, and 1618), the illustration includes detailed depiction of the vaginal cleft. In the second edition (printed 1631 and 1651), the anatomical detail in that area of the woodblock has been obliterated.
I first reported on this difference back in October 2012 when I first viewed a later copy at the University of Washington while at a conference in Seattle. I have since been able to view four additional copies of the book at the University of Chicago: a 1615, 1616, 1641, and 1651 (in addition to a 1634 copy of Alexander Read’s cross-indexed 8vo epitome). Mr. Ronald Sims of the Galter Health Sciences Library at Northwestern University kindly inspected their 1618 and 1631 copies for me yesterday. (I’m headed to Madison to visit special collections at the University of Wisconsin tomorrow to see their 1631 and 1651 copies.)
All of this observation has enabled me to confirm what I suspected from EEBO images—that the first edition of the book, the three issues of which were all printed by William Jaggard, features the illustration in its fully detailed form, while the second edition, two issues by Richard Cotes, reflect the alteration to the woodblock.
Interestingly, while the first edition title pages all specify not only that Jaggard’s shop printed the volumes but also that they were “there to be sold,” the second edition indicates Michael Sparke as bookseller. As the Oxford DNB notes, “Sparke’s life and work were characterized by his maniacal devotion to the protestant religion.” Sparke’s relationship to women was also fraught: He was married twice, and although when he died he left a significant portion of his money to his second wife, he requested burial beside his first; he also banned all women, save his daughters and granddaughters, from his funeral. I intend to investigate whether Sparke’s role in the production of the second edition may have influenced the decision to the alter the image in question.
In addition to this possible influence from the second edition’s intended seller, I’m also conducting further research into print censorship in early modern England. We all know that history doesn’t follow a neat cause-and-effect trajectory; unfortunately, we do not learn from our mistakes and progress steadily forward, constantly improving. Although the publication of the first edition of Mikrokosmographia in its original intended form to no apparent negative consequence, despite the extensive warnings, may appear to represent a step forward as the first medical description of the female reproductive system published in the English vernacular, any progress made was subtly undercut by the alterations made to this illustration in the second edition. I look forward to reading more about the social, personal, religious, and political forces that generated this outcome.
There’s a new website up for the exciting prosopographical project underway at the University of Exeter, “The Medical World of England, Wales and Ireland, c. 1500-1715.” The website is called Early Modern Practitioners and provides an overview of the project, sample data, a “practitioner of the month,” and more. Ultimately, this project will take the form of a database containing biographies of all the active medical practitioners during the time period and in the locations of the project’s title as well as a study of the data compiled which will be published as a major monograph.
This project will build in part on the work I’ve previously mentioned completed by Margaret Pelling. As someone with keen interest in this subject and who has conducted a considerable amount of research in this area, it is my opinion that this is work that very much needs to be done. Although there has been excellent and extensive work on the key players in this time period—think William Harvey—the truth is, there aren’t that many William Harveys. A lot of the big names in medicine (and related fields) are coming out of other parts of Europe; Great Britain is noticeably behind the continent in medical advancement (as well as most other areas) during the Renaissance.
But this doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a vibrant medical scene in England, Wales, and Ireland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In fact, as the website explains:
The sheer numbers of people who practised medicine in some form or other during the medieval and early modern periods are overwhelming. Medical practitioners were, quite literally, everywhere. From ‘formal’ trained and licensed physicians across to the village blacksmith who might perform a secondary role as tooth-drawer, the types of practitioner are also legion. All of the terms below can be found in early modern sources as descriptive terms for practitioners, including their various derivatives and alternative spellings) and this list is by no means exhaustive.
Physic (Phisic, Physick, Phisique, Fisick(e)), Physician, Doctor (of medicine), licentiate, Practicer, Practitioner, Apothecary (pothecary, poticary), Surgeon, Chirurgeon (Chirurgion), Barber, Barber-Surgeon, Mounteban(c)k, Druggist, Chemist, Midwife, Peruke-maker.
This legion of individuals is indeed a rich cross-section of early modern culture, and it will be vastly interesting to see what insights this project develops.
Although I certainly hope that Crooke will be a part of this database, in truth he falls somewhere between this vast majority of medical practitioners and those well-known names like Harvey. Although not widely considered a major contributor to his field, and certainly not a readily recognizable name for most people, Crooke has in fact received much more attention than many of his contemporary physicians, as William Birken has reminded me. But it may be precisely because of this in-between role that he maintains—his part as an “irregular,” as Pelling calls this group—that Crooke may be particularly situated to lend helpful insight to some of the questions raised by this project and related inquiries.
Organizing the 13th annual Craft Critique Culture conference at the University of Iowa is just one of the many things keeping me from completing a new blog post, so I thought I’d let both projects serve the other by posting the CFP here. Our submission deadline has just been pushed back to February 8.
Most exciting in relation to the subject matter of this blog is our guest keynote speaker, Dr. Jonathan Sawday. Sawday, a cultural historian and author of The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture, is Walter J. Ong, S.J., chair in the humanities and currently serves as chairperson of the English department at St. Louis University. I once had dinner with Dr. Sawday, who told me that back in England he had perused a copy of Mikrokosmographia the pages of which were splattered with blood from the anatomy theater. Sawday’s current work on blanks and voids in literature, art, and culture ties into our conference theme, “Into the Void.” See CFP below (feel free to pass on/circulate):
The 13th Annual Craft Critique Culture Conference
Into the Void
March 29-30, 2012
University of Iowa
But in the midst of the long row there hangs a canvas which differs from the others. . . . on this one plate no name is inscribed, and the linen within the frame is snow-white from corner to corner, a blank page.
— Isak Dinesen, “The Blank Page”
As an interdisciplinary conference, CCC itself enters into the void between disciplines. We seek papers from the broadest variety of fields (English, philosophy, history, law, classical studies, anthropology, art, sociology, theater, political science, psychology, etc.), from the full range of approaches and time periods, as well as work that is itself interdisciplinary (cultural studies, book history, religious studies, bioethics and humanities, media studies, digital humanities, etc.). We want to hear about the voids you encounter in literature, art, culture, and even the sciences. Voids can be frightening areas of the unknown, the empty, the uncharted, but as such they can also be spaces for incredible opportunity and discovery.
The word “void” is both spatial and conceptual. As a noun, it can signify a blank page, an empty room, or ineffective speech; as a verb, it can render vacant, exhaust a subject, nullify or annul. The void is gap, absence, lack—but also possibility, purity, and potential. How is the void figured in art, music, literature, and film? Is there an aesthetic of the void? A language of the void? How does the artist or author negotiate the void? How does the audience or reader negotiate it? How is the void made productive? How does encountering the void affect/alter identity? How are voids deployed in order to manipulate or appease?
Topics could include:
- Blank spaces in works of literature, film, art, etc.
- Opportunity created by a void
- Concepts of “impossible speech”
- Performing the void
- Voids in translation
- Identity voids
- Spatial voids
- Poetics of the void
- Anxiety of the void
- Geographical voids
- Ethics of the void
- Politics and the void
- Anything related to gaps, spaces, fissures, emptiness, holes, darkness, blankness, unboundedness, openness, etc.
Craft Critique Culture is an interdisciplinary conference focusing on the intersections among critical and creative approaches to writing both within and beyond the academy. We invite the submission of critical, theoretical, and original creative work in a variety of media and across the humanities, sciences, and legal disciplines. In the past, submissions have included not only traditional scholarly papers but also film, video, music, writing, visual art and artists’ books, and performance. There are all kinds of voids to explore, in all kinds of ways.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 350 words. Full panels (featuring three papers) may also be proposed. Each panel proposal should consist of three abstracts and a brief explanation of the panel’s purpose and relevance to the conference. Each panel submission should total no more than 1,000 words. Please include name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), street address, telephone number, and email address on all abstracts and proposals. Please submit all paper abstracts or panel proposals to Craft Critique Culture, firstname.lastname@example.org. Submission deadline is February 8, 2013.
One of my recent challenges with this blog has been an editorial one. How do I determine what information belongs?
When I first conceived of this project, the intention was simply to go through and create a modernized version of Crooke’s text. I didn’t intend to post every word, but a paragraph or two here and there that represented the really interesting parts, along with some interpretation/insights. In looking back over my posts so far, I realize that has become a rather small part of what I’ve done.
This is, I think, because that narrow focus is only a small part of what I’m pursuing with Crooke outside of the blog. He is, after all, a far larger character than just “author of Mikrokosmographia,” and my interest in him has led me to far broader intellectual pursuits. I still see the modernized version of the anatomy text as an important project, and one I want to continue. But there’s a lot of exciting related stuff happening outside of that text, too – stuff that (it seems to me, anyway) someone interested in the text of the anatomy book might also find interesting. And sharing it here has provided a convenient way of documenting and indexing those discoveries.
I’ve realized this situation reflects the tension in my own scholarly work between close attention to the text and the book as a material object on one side and broader historical, social, and theoretical contexts on the other. I see too many links between these things to accept them as mutually exclusive. And I’m too interested in them both to neglect either one completely. But I have yet to identify a clear way of balancing them together—or maybe not just balancing, but joining. Perhaps continuing my multivalent blogging will help with that.
In hope that it will, I’d like to share a short paper I recently wrote that only very briefly mentions Crooke. The assignment was a close reading of limited length, and so that is what I have here, but I think there may be potential for expansion. As I mentioned previously, I’ve been reading Crooke’s better-known contemporary William Harvey for this class, and his De motu cordis (or, at least, one paragraph of it) is the focus of this piece. That book recounts the discovery of the circulation of the blood, and I explore a remarkable moment in which Harvey does three very interesting things: 1) Experiments on an animal that allows anatomy without dissection, 2) Philosophically ponders the definition of life upon observation of a “disappearing” heart, and 3) Shares his experiments with friends. I welcome feedback/comments/questions (although I have no immediate plans for revision/expansion).
While in Seattle for the PAMLA conference, I was able to make a brief visit to the Health Sciences Library at the University of Washington to view their copy of the 1651 edition of Crooke’s Mikroskomographia. Although I didn’t have time (or the resources handy) to closely compare the text itself (by which I mean the words that comprise the body of the work – is “text” the correct term?), I did notice several other distinct aspects of this edition and this individual book.
For one thing, the 1651 edition includes several new illustrations. Most striking is the completely made-over title page, part of which I’ve mentioned in an earlier post. This title page also appears on the 1631 edition (and perhaps others; I suppose one thing to add to the “to-do” list is a catalog of title pages among editions). I apologize for the poor image quality; while my iPhone camera actually does quite a fine job when given the chance, I was in a bit of a hurry, and ended up with several blurs. I do have better photographs of each of the individual sections.
There are many interesting images packed into the tight space, and I’ll spend another post examining each more closely, including the tableau at the bottom which, supposedly, includes a portrait of Crooke himself. What I found most unfortunate about this UW copy is that the library has placed their identifying stamp directly on the back of the title page, causing the bright blue ink to bleed through right in the middle of the text at center. I mentioned this to Donna Hirst, curator of the John Martin Rare Book Room at the medical library here at UIowa. She explained that some sort of permanent identifying mark is necessary in case the book should be stolen; however, she agreed with me that the placement of the UW stamp was a travesty. I wonder if perhaps they were worried the title page itself might be torn out, given that it’s arguably the most interesting visual in the book. Although I’d rather see it some place more unobtrusive, I do like the idea of a permanent mark being placed on the book by each and every one of its owners, as a matter of provenance as well as narrative—it’s part of the book’s own story.
The images within the 1651 Mikrokosmographia also vary from the 1615 edition. There are new additions, as well as alterations to existing illustrations. One of the most striking changes to previous images that I noticed involves the illustration of the female reproductive system; the original detailed illustration of the genitals has been erased into a featureless blob.
Given that Crooke’s original inclusion of such explicit images caused vehement protest, but he insisted on printing them anyway (apparently to no consequence), I was initially surprised to see the more demure version in this later edition—until I double-checked my dates. Crooke died in 1648, meaning this later edition was published three years after his death. Thirty-six years later, the censors gained some ground, although I can’t help but think of this victory as rather little, and awfully late. I’m anxious now to check the intervening editions for this image.
I’ll be honest; I’m prone to complain about those things I am “made” to do as a PhD student. But, delightfully, in the past (incredibly busy) week, I have doubly and duly reaped the benefits of submission to doing what I ought.
In my 16th & 17th c non-fiction prose readings course, the time has come for me to offer the class a presentation of my chosen course text, William Harvey’s Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus, more commonly known as De Mortu Cordis or, more familiarly, as On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals. First published (in Latin) in 1628, this text outlines Harvey’s discovery of how the circulatory system works.
Given my interest in Crooke (surely an understatement, if ever there was one), I chose Harvey’s work for obvious reasons. Harvey and Crooke were contemporaries in more than one sense. Not only is Harvey just a few years the younger, but both were members of the College of Physicians in London, both were anatomists (in a sense; Harvey was definitely the more active in the actual practice of dissection), and both were authors of medical texts. Both upset the system to some degree, although Crooke seems to have struggled more with the institution than did Harvey.
The two also differ, however, in a number of ways. Crooke studied medicine at Leiden, whereas Harvey earned his medical degree at Padua, and I wonder how much of a difference this made in their consequent medical careers. Crooke made zero contributions to science, whereas Harvey is widely celebrate for his work on circulation. Crooke had a stormy tenure as the keeper of Bethlem Hospital and died penniless; Harvey enjoyed greater personal repute and died fairly wealthy. Crooke made tenuous claims of being “physitian to His Majestie” James I, while Harvey enjoyed a long, profitable, and well-documented career in the service of two different English monarchs. Crooke’s book Mikrokosmographia was quite popular during his lifetime and is now largely forgotten; Harvey’s published works were largely scorned and widely contested during his lifetime but have since become canonical in multiple fields.
Although I have long been aware of Harvey and have come across various references to and information about him in my research on early modern medicine, this presentation afforded me my first chance to really focus on him and do some deeper reading. Harvey is a likewise intriguing figure, but (for me, at least) particularly as a foil for Crooke. I am not yet certain how Harvey will fit into my larger, longer-term project(s), but working on him has certainly provided a much-needed portion of my body of knowledge.
Interestingly, because of the way my real-life narrative has played out recently, my work on Harvey also tied neatly into the conference I’ve been attending this weekend. I actually give my Harvey presentation in class tomorrow evening, so I’ve been finishing up some of my reading while I’m in Seattle for PAMLA. On Friday I gave a paper on the influence of Spenserian allegory on Crooke’s book for a two-part panel on allegory, and this conference experience has been a particularly fruitful one, in the way of both professional connections and invigorating ideas. Here’s a summary of my personal highlights:
- Panel organizer Brenda Machosky (University of Hawai’i) is doing some exciting work on allegory, particularly as a juxtaposition to aesthetics; as part of a new book project, she is considering instances in which allegory is a necessary and irreplaceable mode of communication for ideas/concepts that might not otherwise be expressed, particularly in postcolonial literatures.
- Fellow panelist Layla Roesler (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon) introduced me (and much of the audience, I’d guess) to French poet/philosopher Yves Bonnefoy and his work on allegory and the concept of “presence.” I am very interested in his ideas, although unfortunately it seems that very little of his critical work has been translated into English.
- I met Mr. Simon May of Oxford, another fellow panelist, who is doing some very interesting work on Marlowe and Elizabethan politics and who, as I informed him yesterday, wins my award for Best Conference Buddy Ever.
- I made the acquaintance of several other interesting and engaged young early modern scholars, including Erin Weinberg of Queen’s University (check out her Shakespeare blog, “Bardolator“) and Penny Geng (USC).
Between the panel I read for and the five others I attended as an audience member, I was privileged to participate in some of the most interesting, insightful, thought-provoking, and invigorating real-time academic dialogue I have ever been privy to. PAMLA 2012 was everything a conference should be—which, unfortunately, happens less often than it should.
After this engaging weekend of history, literature, and language, I returned to my reading on Harvey, which included a chapter by Jarmo Pulkkinen titled “The Role of Metaphors in William Harvey’s Thought” from volume two of the book Philosophies of Technology (Brill, 2008). As you might imagine, Pulkkinen’s discussion of metaphor in scientific thought fed right into the myriad of ideas about the generation of knowledge in early 17th c London swirling around in my head after the conference. The reading I do just seems to generate further questions (as well it should, I suppose): How exactly do we define metaphor and allegory? How are they different, and what is the relationship between them? What is the the function of allegory in early modern pre-scientific thought and protoscientific writing? Is allegory/metaphor absolutely necessary to the rhetoric of texts like Crooke’s and Harvey’s? How? Why? Are there other creative tropes at work in these texts? Are they also essential? How do these modes contribute to the development of scientific thought in the mid- to later 17th century? How is this tied to British national identity, as Spenser and Sidney work to build an English school of literature and Crooke, seemingly heavily influenced by such predecessors, strives to establish a distinctly English school of anatomy? How does it influence early modern concepts of individual identity, giving the intimately physically personal nature of anatomy and medical work? My “further reading” list at this point includes Max Black, Jon Whitman, Benedict Anderson, and Paul de Man, although if anyone has suggestions to add, I welcome them.
You may also notice that this line of questioning sounds something like a potential dissertation project. Which means that I seem to be pursuing two somewhat related but largely disparate lines of inquiry (see my previous post), one of which can become my diss and one which must be delegated to the proverbial “second book”/back-burner status. On one hand I have the prosopographical study of the early 17th c medical practitioners in London operating on the periphery of the College of Physicians; as an English literature disseration, I think this would essentially boil down to an exploration of literary representations of, and/or perhaps by, this group. (As one example, Middleton’s play The Changeling features the character of a “mad” doctor named Alibius, for whom Crooke has been suggested as the inspiration.) On the other I go the daunting route of philosophy of language, exploring allegory and other literary tropes as means by which medical knowledge is discovered/developed/communicated, consequently contributing to the formation of English identity, both individual and national. Or perhaps these two seemingly divergent avenues are related in a way I haven’t yet recognized… I suppose only more reading (and writing, and talking!) will tell.
Looking ahead: This afternoon, before I leave Seattle, I am heading over to the Health Sciences Library at the University of Washington to view a 1651 copy of Mikrokosmographia – look for a blog post about it later this week!