Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture

By Emily Cock

Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3718-0
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: September 2019
  • BIC Category: Medicine / History of medicine, Early Modern History, History of Medicine, History of medicine, MEDICAL / Surgery / Plastic & Cosmetic, HISTORY / Modern / General, History, MEDICAL / History, Cosmetic Surgery, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700
  • Series: Social Histories of Medicine


Challenging histories of plastic surgery that posit a complete disappearance of Gaspare Tagliacozzi's rhinoplasty operation after his death in 1599, Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture traces knowledge of the procedure within the early modern British medical community, through to its impact on the nineteenth-century revival of skin-flap facial surgeries. The book explores why such a procedure was controversial, and the cultural importance of the nose, offering critical readings of literary noses from Shakespeare to Laurence Sterne. Medical knowledge of the graft operation was accompanied by a spurious story that the nose would be constructed from flesh purchased from a social inferior, and would drop off when that person died. The volume therefore explores this narrative in detail for its role in the procedure's stigmatisation, its engagement with the doctrine of medical sympathy, and its unique attempt to commoditise living human flesh.


'this is a carefully researched and convincing book about the multi-layered reception of one controversial surgical procedure. [...] this book is recommended not only to historians of medicine and the body but also to scholars interested in early modern British literary history and popular culture, queer theory and the history of sexuality.'
Social History of Medicine


Introduction: to supply the scandalous want of that obvious part
1 Reading and feigning faces
2 Taliacotian rhinoplasty
3 The circulation of surgical knowledge
4 Satirising sympathy
5 Dear flesh: noses on sale
Conclusion: changing noses, changing fortunes


Emily Cock is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of History at Cardiff University

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