Paratexts and pornographic potential in seventeenth-century anatomy books

Heyam, Kit (2019) Paratexts and pornographic potential in seventeenth-century anatomy books. The Seventeenth Century, 34 (5). pp. 615-647. ISSN 0268-117X

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This article discusses paratexts in seventeenth-century anatomy books and their relation to contemporary concerns that these books might be read erotically. Suggesting that discussions of these concerns have hitherto neglected the material object of the book, I argue for the importance of paratexts (illustrations, legends, prefaces, running titles and marginal notes) as sites of negotiation over anatomy books’ pornographic potential. I examine these paratexts both as strategies by which writers and printers carefully and collaboratively attempt to frustrate erotic reading, and as devices that might simultaneously function to facilitate this mode of reading. The centrality of these concerns to the construction of anatomy books indicates, I suggest, a need to augment our characterisation of early modern readers, incorporating wilfully thoughtless and/or excessive reading alongside active and productive reading. My discussion focuses on Helkiah Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia, and is supplemented with analysis of other English anatomy books published throughout the seventeenth century.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anatomy, book history, helkiah crooke, paratexts, pornography, erotic reading
Subjects: P900 Others in Mass Communications and Documentation
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2020 10:30
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 11:46

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