Abstract

Titus Andronicus is infamously Shakespeare’s first, and bloodiest, tragedy, but only a few scholars link this violence with the Renaissance culture of anatomy and dissection. Although scholars mention the anatomical language in Titus Andronicus, their analyses stop short of more fully developing the rich relationship between dissection and Shakespeare’s play. To remedy this oversight, this paper explores the debt that Titus Andronicus owes to contemporary anatomy and dissection culture by comparing Titus Andronicus (est. 1590) with Andreas Vesalius’s revolutionary anatomy textbook, De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543). Specifically, this paper will identify four major intents of the Fabrica: 1) to display, 2) to instruct, 3) to interpret, and 4) to aestheticize the interior of the human body, and illustrate how these four traits figure in the representation of Lavinia’s body in the play. By mirroring the Fabrica’s four intents in both anatomy text and play, as well as examining the Fabrica’s images and text itself, this analysis reveals a pertinent difference. While in many ways Titus Andronicus celebrates the De Humani Corporis Fabrica, the play applies a heavy dose of skepticism to Vesalius’s underlying epistemological assumption that the body is knowable.

Degree

MA

College and Department

Humanities; English

Rights

http://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/

Date Submitted

2014-06-01

Document Type

Thesis

Handle

http://hdl.lib.byu.edu/1877/etd7082

Language

english

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