The anatomy theater
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] During the Renaissance, anatomical theaters cropped up in cities all over Europe, anatomists performed dissections open to the general public, and they circulated illustrations which had a remarkable resemblance to the pornography of the period. I wrote the first section of The Anatomy Theater in response to these images, hoping to enter the images from multiple perspectives, aligning the poems' voices variously, with the anatomist, the artist, the viewer, or the dissected. The illustrations are complex, contradictory and stirring, because the issues they touch on are so central to us: death, salvation, decomposition, transience, gender, love, healing, sexuality, violence, knowledge, science, power and beauty, to name those that come to mind. As the book progressed, and I left the Renaissance anatomists, the subjects of poems in the subsequent three sections of the book varied widely, from issues of my own health, to meditations on paintings from different time periods, to poems imagining the death of Renaissance poet, John Donne. I found, nonetheless, that similar preoccupations rose through the poems, issues of how, through various practices, we glean information of the body. I think of the book's title, The Anatomy Theater, as pointing not only, as it does in the first section, to the literal site of Renaissance anatomical learning, but also to the many anatomical theaters: the many theaters of the body, those structures of thought -- religious, artistic, medical -- through which we understand the body.
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri--Columbia.