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Nicole Hochner UWA P/G History Seminar

Date: 24 July 2012
Time: 11.00am -1.00pm

Event Type:

UWA Postgraduate History Seminar

Event Title:

"The Body Politic Metaphor in Mutation or a Sixteenth Century Manifesto for Social Mobility"


During the fifteenth century the organic body politic metaphor was gradually associated or superseded by a physiological paradigm built on the ancient humoral theory. The new body politic, based on humours rather than on organs, eventually became a dynamic and fluid entity. Authors such as Nicole Oresme or Jean Gerson alleged that the etiology of humoral imbalance had its origins in growing social inequalities, Claude de Seyssel subsequently urged that the cure to restore the humoral balance should focus on creating new hope and bridges for the gifted. Seyssel was able to draw up his pioneering manifesto for social mobility thanks to the new physiological image of the civic body. The present study argues that such a physiological conception transformed anxiety about motion and disarray into a belief that social fluidity was indispensable to the wellbeing and health of the whole body, but the idea that (social) order and movements are not conflicting, was soon eradicated by new perspectives on nobility constructed on race and blood.


Dr Nicole Hochner


Videoconference Room 1.33 (Arts Seminar Room 1.33), UWA.