Performing the Sixteenth-Century Brain
At the juncture of history and literary criticism, Performing the Sixteenth-Century Brain re-examines two books, Hans von Gersdorff's Feldtbuch der Wundtartzney (Fieldbook of Surgery) and Lorenz Fries' Spiegel der Artzny (Mirror of Medicine) that include some of the first visually accurate representations of the body and brain. The central objective of this book is to shift the focus away from the images themselves to their production and interpretation in the early sixteenth century. Kismet Bell's close readings of Gersdorff's Feldtbuch der Wundtartzney and Fries' Spiegel der Artzny follow the meandering path of the inner senses of common sense, imagination, reason, and memory as these were the mental powers which framed that which was knowable. Performing the Sixteenth-Century Brain describes how the brain was, rather than a radically new discovery, an unintended artefact that emerged through slight shifts in the codes of inscription.
Jameson Kismet Bell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Western Languages and Literatures at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.