Beneath the Fig Leaf

in The Lady Anatomist

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780226520810
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226520841 | DOI:
Beneath the Fig Leaf

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter identifies the ways in which Anna Morandi disrupted the patrilineal hold on the body by upending the tradition of the male scientific observer and the female anatomical subject. Morandi extensively focused in her notes and waxworks on the structure and functions of the reproductive body. Together with her husband, she clearly practiced a method of dissection that was defined by a systemic as opposed to a regional approach. Morandi contributed to the discourse of sexual difference. After her husband's death, she formed some occasional wax facsimiles of the gravid uterus and female reproductive organs, digging deep beneath the fig leaf to uncover the intricate structures and corresponding functions of “the male generative parts.” Moreover, Morandi's bipartite visual and written study of the male urogenital system was fundamentally didactic. She asserted her authority through neither a reiteration nor a reversal of the sexual imbalance.

Keywords: reproductive body; Anna Morandi; dissection; sexual difference; wax; uterus; fig leaf

Chapter.  9444 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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