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Falling Into The Rabbit Hole: Monstrosity, Modesty, And Mary Toft

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Falling Into The Rabbit Hole: Monstrosity, Modesty, And Mary Toft

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Title: Falling Into The Rabbit Hole: Monstrosity, Modesty, And Mary Toft
Author: Davis, Piper Crisp
Abstract: The obstetrical hoax perpetrated by Mary Toft in eighteenth-century England is worth the further attention of English scholars, not only because numerous literary texts are inspired by or linked to the incident, but also because existing studies frequently simplify this contemporary cultural fascination by associating it with theories of monstrosity. In this paper, I demonstrate that attempts to examine the rabbit births through the lens of monstrosity are complicated by the imprecise nature of language and the multiple meanings of the term monstrous, while attempts at objective observation are frustrated and deconstructed by satirists, by other scientists, and even by the object of the experiment. Using Donna Haraway's and Joanna Picciotto's theories to analyze primary scientific and satirical texts surrounding the Toft incident, my thesis introduces terms and research methods that may promote additional inquiry into an event which influenced eighteenth-century reproductive theories and challenged existing systems of epistemology.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10106/960
Date: 2008-08-08
External Link: https://www.uta.edu/ra/real/editprofile.php?onlyview=1&pid=1495

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