This study takes as its subject the mutilated and fragmented body that appears in United States literature in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In an attempt to assuage the horror associated with disintegrating exterior and interior identities, authors turned medical practice into metaphor in order to explore precisely what had become of corporeal and metaphysical identity. They include detailed and often gruesome portrayals of the mutilated body, a trope that emerges from three particular agents: the horrific United States Civil War and World War I that both produced remarkable numbers of anatomically fragmented men; the very same machines that enabled mass quantities and efficient work; and social institutions such as politics, economics, and medical practices.The mutilated body, at the heart of these modern texts, is far more than a harbinger of a loss of identity to come: these corporeal forms, themselves unrecognizable, embody the unknown and unknowable self. Laura L. Behling teaches American literature and culture at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Dewey Decimal Classfication (DDC)