In recent years, the transitioning body has become the subject of increasing scholarly, medical, and political interest. This interdisciplinary collection seeks to enable productive dialogue about bodily transformation and its many potential meanings and possibilities.

Recent high-profile sex transitions, such as Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn, have contributed to a proliferation of public and private debates about the boundaries of personal identity and the politics of gender. Sexual transition is only one possible type of bodily transformation, and bodies that change forms vex many binaries that underpin daily life such as male/female, gay/straight, well/unhealthy, able/disabled, beautiful/ugly, or adult/child. When transformations and transitions involve trauma, illness, injury, surgery or death, bodies can become culturally and socially illegible and enter the realm of abjection or even horror. Health humanities, a recent revision of medical humanities that includes patients and other nonphysicians, provides an interdisciplinary lens through which to read such bodily transformation and its representation in public culture. The authors of the essays in the present volume situate their work in this interdisciplinary space to enable productive dialogue about bodily transformation and its meanings in artistic, literary, visual, and health discourses. The essays in this volume discuss non-normative bodies from eighteenth-century France to present-day Iran and investigate narratives of cancer, aging, anorexia, AIDS, intersexuality, transsexuality, viruses, bacteria, and vaccinations.

This collection will be of key interest to faculty and students in women' studies/gender studies, cultural studies, studies of visual and material culture, medical/health humanities, disability studies, and rhetorics of science, health and medicine, and will be a useful resource for scholars across interdisciplinary fields of study.

chapter 1|8 pages


Bodies and Transitions in the Health Humanities
ByLisa M. DeTora, Stephanie M. Hilger

part 1|2 pages

Medical Models, Charts, and Institutional Narratives

chapter 2|11 pages

Enlightened Wax Works

Viewing the Anatomical Woman in the Viennese Josephinum
ByAngelika Vybiral

chapter 3|13 pages

Epistemological Anxiety

The Case of Michel-Anne Drouart
ByStephanie M. Hilger

chapter 4|10 pages

Charting Intersex

Intersex Life-Writing and the Medical Record
ByKatelyn Dykstra

chapter 5|13 pages

Narrating Sex Change in Iran

Transsexuality and the Politics of Documentary Film
ByNajmeh Moradiyan-Rizi

chapter 6|13 pages

Isolated Bodies, Isolated Spaces

Anorexia and Bulimia in Women’s Autobiographical Narratives
ByBarbara Grüning

part 2|2 pages

Invasive Influences and Corporeal Integrity

chapter 7|12 pages

Unseen Enemies

Neisseria, Desire, and Bodily Discourse
ByLisa M. DeTora

chapter 8|12 pages

The Human Papillomavirus Vaccination

Gendering the Rhetorics of Immunization in Public Health Discourses
ByJennifer A. Malkowski

chapter 9|11 pages

Bacteriology and Modernity

Phenomenology, Biopolitics, Ontology
ByJens Lohfert Jørgensen

chapter 10|11 pages


The Trinity of Bodies in Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017)
ByAdnan Mahmutović, Denise Ask Nunes

part 3|2 pages

Aging, Decline, and Death

chapter 11|11 pages

Embodied Transitions in Michel de Montaigne

ByNora Martin Peterson, Peter Martin

chapter 12|11 pages

Witnessing Illness

Phenomenology of Photographic Self Portraiture
ByElizabeth Lanphier

chapter 13|15 pages

Disjunction and Relationality in Terminal Illness Writing

ByYianna Liatsos

chapter 4|7 pages

Afterword—Representation as a Lens

Teaching and Researching in the Health Humanities
ByCarl Fisher