Cutting Words: Polemical Dimensions of Galen’s Anatomical Experiments
Faculty Fellow, Spring 2019
In Cutting Words: Polemical Dimensions of Galen’s Anatomical Experiments, Luis Alejandro Salas offers a new account of Galen’s medical experiments in the context of the high intellectual culture of second-century Rome. The book explores how Galen’s written experiments operate alongside their live counterparts. It argues that Galen’s experimental writing reperforms the licensing functions of his live demonstrations, acting as a surrogate for their performance and in some cases an improvement upon it. Cutting Words focuses on the philosophical targets and theoretical stakes of four case studies: Galen’s experiments on voice production, the bladder, the heart, and the femoral artery. It ends over a millennium later with Vesalius, who adapted his Greek predecessor’s writing in his own anatomical work, framing himself as a new Galen and so securing Galen’s legacy of writing.