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reproduction, life and death


Charles Estienne’s De la Dissection des parties du corps humain (1546) presents the uterus not only as a site of generation and life, but also putrefaction and death. Estienne first writes about the uterus as a surgical site where life and death converge and must be separated, and then as an anatomical site where pain and pleasure are divided because of Galenic theories about the uterus that involve generation and corruption. In spite of frequent attempts to visually quarantine the uterus from the rest of the body with a printed inset, these surgical and anatomical separations between life and death are often clearer in the texts than in the images, which are as much about invisibility as visibility.