Francis Barker: The Tremulous Private Body 

In the seventeenth century there was a profound change in the conditions and representation of the body. Reflecting on a wide range of works, including the Jacobean drama, Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, rembrandt’s painting, the philosophy of descartes, milton’s areopagitica and Samuel Pepys’ diary, Francis Barkers essay maps a transformation of the spectacular corporeality of the dramatic stage and the scaffold of public execution in the course of which a sexually embarrassing body is redefined, privatized and pushed away from discourse into a furtive half-life beyond the text. The new regime separates the body from the soul and divides the body into two components: the absent body whose desires and appetites are denied, and the positive body which is eventually reinscribed as an object of rational knowledge, prepared for productive and disciplined labour. Built into the argument is an evocation of the way in which this process defines not only the new body, but equally the conditions of modern subjectivity and subjection. The self-gendered subject is constructed comes to define the orders of discourse and of representation which typify the bourgeois epoch. Drawing on the theoretical work of foucault, Derrida, and lacan, and the Marxism of Louis Althusser, the tremulous private body engages the central theme of post-structuralism- discourse, sexuality, textuality and power- but is not a post structuralist work and rejected many of the positions characteristic of post-structuralism, particularly its tendency to depoliticize discourse.
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