This article explores James Parsons’ A Mechanical and Critical Enquiry into the Nature of Hermaphrodites (1741) in the context of the Enlightenment goal to elucidate all mysteries of the natural world. Parsons’ text is typically discussed as representing the break between old, mythologically-inspired and new, fact-based explanations of sexually ambiguous bodies and thereby encapsulating Enlightenment objectivity, optimism, and certainty. A closer look, however, reveals that intellectual anxiety permeates Parsons’ text, which was published in an era of turbulent epistemological changes. The hermaphrodite becomes the symbol for an era that strives to solve all mysteries of the natural world yet struggles with this endeavor.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Taking Stock-Twenty-Five Years of Comparative Literary Research|
|Editors|| Norbert Bachleitner, Achim Hölter, John A. McCarthy|
|Number of pages||23|
|State||Published - Oct 1 2019|
|Name||Internationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft|