Event—Scholarly Seminars

Rebecca Messbarger, Washington University St. Louis


Ghostly Light: How Criminal Corpses Animated the Italian Enlightenment, Rebecca Messbarger
The public dissection of the executed infanticide Lucia Cremonini in Bologna’s Archiginnasio Anatomy Theater on January 23, 1710 is the point of departure and cultural benchmark for my analysis of the rise of Enlightenment ideals and practical reforms already burgeoning in select cultural capitals on the Italian peninsula. Just 27 years after the execution and dissection of this 23-year old illiterate maidservant, the semiotic entanglement of the capital execution and the Public Anatomy would officially loosen. My talk explores the establishment of the modern practice of body donation for medical dissection, as well as other critical reforms centered on the human body, particularly the criminal body, instituted during the Italian Settecento.