Witnessing through the skin: the hysteric's body as text
Author: Segal, Naomi
Source: Journal of Romance Studies, Volume 9, Number 3, Winter 2009 , pp. 73-85(13)
Publisher: Berghahn Journals
Abstract:How does the hysteric bear witness through her body? This article looks at ways in which, from antiquity to the present day, the hysteric has borne witness to the anxiety of her time, age and sex through the speaking surface of her skin. In the eighth century CE a doctor tears the veil off the caliph's concubine; in the Renaissance physicians and witchfinders look for stigmata; in the eighteenth century hysteria is located in 'the nerves'; in the early twentieth century Charcot displays hysteria to audience or camera and Freud 'wipes away' the memories of Frau Emmy von N. What anxieties mark the surface of the troubled young woman of today? In its conclusion, this article suggests that it is exposure that haunts the outside of her body, circling it without protection, in a world where 'health' is not a pleasure but a duty.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2009-12-01
- Journal of Romance Studies promotes innovative critical work in the areas of linguistics, literature, performing and visual arts, media, material culture, intellectual and cultural history, critical and cultural theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, social sciences, and anthropology. The primary focus is on those parts of the world that speak, or have spoken, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, but work on other cultures may be included. Issues cross national and disciplinary boundaries in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about cultural history and practice.
Published in Association with the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
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