Epochs of embodiment: men, women and the material body

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Using middling-sort letters dating from 1726 to 1827, this article explores individuals' physical, affective, mental and spiritual experiences and their understanding of the relationship between mind, body and self. The everyday and metaphorical language used in these letters gives the historian arguably more authentic evidence about the complexity of embodiment – a person's perception or experience of the body – than do works of medicine or philosophy. Gender was not found to be a principal factor in determining individuals' sense of embodiment; instead, correspondents' relationship, religion and life stage were key to how they discussed their experience of the body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-469
Number of pages15
JournalJournal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Issue number4
Early online date20 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • body
  • medicine
  • gender
  • letters
  • embodiment
  • emotion


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