Chapter 1: Introduction
Developing Expertise and Learning to See
This chapter sets up Fountain's study by introducing its focus, purpose, and rationale, in the process explaining the connections between trained vision and technical expertise as well as their relevance to TPC, rhetorical studies, and medicine. To do this, Fountain draws from work in rhetoric, TPC, and science studies scholarship. He demonstrates how the anatomy lab, structured by apodeictic and epideictic demonstrations, provides a rich location from which to explore these interrelated concepts. Also, he defines his key rhetorical terms (apodeixis and epideixis), explains his methodology, forecasts his approach to embodiment, and outlines the chapters of the book.
Chapter 2: One Body to Learn Another
Activities of the Anatomy Lab
In chapter 2, Fountain describes in detail the anatomy laboratory classes that were the site of his fieldwork: the undergraduate prosection lab, the medical and dental student dissection lab, and the preparation labs where the teaching assistants set up each week’s materials. He discusses these labs as an ecology of discourses and practices, images and objects, and specifically eyes that look and hands that touch. In these spaces, students and teachers use the physical body to learn the anatomical body. To explain these spaces, he introduces the phenomenological and cognitive components of his framework, drawing primarily from Merleau-Ponty ( 2005; 1968), Noë (2006), and Thompson (2010). With this framework, he demonstrates how bodies and multimodal objects form embodied rhetorical action, a body-world coupling that exerts a socializing force that structures how participants experience and understand these objects. Throughout the book, he uses and continues to elaborate his theory of embodied rhetorical action in order to explain how discourse, objects, documents, and bodies converge to make possible anatomical vision and anatomical bodies.
Chapter 3: Looking at Pictures
Multimodal Displays and Perceived Affordances
This chapter analyzes the apodeictic displays of the anatomy lab. Beginning with an illustration from John Banister’s sixteenth-century atlas, Fountain attends to the practices that make up anatomical presentation and representation, or demonstration. He examines the lab’s networks of visual and multimodal objects (including atlas images, x-rays, and cadavers), which bring the anatomy body before the eyes and hands of laboratory participants. Using phenomenological conceptions of the three components of picture making (pictorial images, vehicles, and subjects), he classifies the multimodal displays by their representational content, dimensionality, materiality, and perceived level of interactivity. These multimodal displays and the embodied rhetorical practices they encourage ultimately configure a trained perspective based on the perceived affordances of the objects on display. Drawing from Gibson’s (1986) ecological theory of vision, he demonstrates how participants use and build meaning from these visual displays, specifically the objects’ solicitations to act, or what Gibson terms an object’s perceived affordances. Together, the materiality of objects, their representational or presentational content, and the tasks in which one is engaged determine an object’s affordances. By classifying the visuals of the labs, he illustrates how students and TAs conceive of these representational and presentational objects as materializations of anatomical knowledge and opportunities to act on and with the body.
Chapter 4: Hands-On Visuals
Embodied Observation and Rhetorical Verification
Chapter 4 takes up how participants teach and learn anatomy through the process of observation, specifically the capacity to recognize anatomical structures in and on the physical body. Students, TAs, and instructors use the visual displays and objects of the lab (and their perceived affordances) to form what Fountain, inspired by Prentice (2013), calls a haptic gaze. Participants learn (and teach) anatomy through a process of hypothesis confirmation, in which one learns to recognize the descriptive and relational values of the anatomical body. By developing an awareness of how a structure should look (its descriptive value) and its associations with neighboring structures and basic physiology (its relational value), students learn to recognize anatomy in the body by learning to recognize, and be persuaded by, anatomical evidence. The cadaver, then, functions as a rhetorical object that not only seems to “present” anatomy but also “appeals” to the students’ budding clinical judgment. Recognition and persuasion derive from the students’ skillful ability to bring together vision and touch and to analyze perceptual content in light of anatomical knowledge. In the process, participants develop what Merleau-Ponty ( 2005) and Dreyfus (2005) term “a maximum grip” on the objects of their environment. This chapter offers the haptic gaze as a concrete example of embodied learning, one made possibly by rhetorical processes of hypothesis confirmation and self-persuasion.
Chapter 5: Making Beautiful Bodies
Dissection as an Ordering Practice
Dissection is a physically and cognitively taxing activity, one that involves a dual process of revealing to learn and learning to reveal. Through it, participants make the anatomical body visible all the while causing the physical one to slowly disappear; they adopt an almost aesthetic orientation that allows them to view the well-dissected cadaver as a “beautiful body,” made so by its ability to become an authoritative presentation of actual anatomy. In chapter 5, Fountain illustrates this process by way of field notes and interviews as well as an analysis of Gunter von Hagens’s Body Worlds exhibit of plastinated human cadavers, a display that (for most participants of the study) epitomized this seemingly contradictory aesthetic category. Expert dissection not only renders the unruly cadaver (in the words of participants) “beautiful” and “clean,” but it does so by encouraging dissectors to use the idealized atlas images as an interpretative framework, or what Hutchins (1995; 2005) calls a “mediating artifact,” for understanding the body and organizing the distributed cognitive work of dissection.
Chapter 6: Downplaying Personhood
Anatomical Focus and the Praise of Cadavers
The lab’s two rhetorical demonstrations—the apodeictic multimodal displays and objects as well as the epideictic displays of institutional values—develop in participants what is commonly called “clinical detachment.” This mechanism allows them to filter (as much as possible) the unpleasantness of dissection and the anxiety producing nature of cadaveric anatomy. Chapter 6 calls into question the classic idea of clinical detachment as merely a desensitizing influence. Through the process of anatomical focus (the transforming of the physical body into the anatomical one), participants learn to navigate and even sustain the tension between the body as science (biology) and the body as person (personhood). The powerful institutional rhetoric that praises cadaveric anatomy, specifically firsthand dissection, makes anatomical focus possible. This encomium of dissection structures participants’ experience of working with cadavers by encouraging them to hyperfocus on the actions of dissection (as opposed to the object of those actions) and the scientific usefulness of the body. By influencing how participants make sense of the cadaver, this epideictic discourse re-sensitizes participants to what Waldby (2000) calls the “biovalue” of the body. Thus, the re-sensitizing influence of anatomical focus is a cognitive process of attunement, whereby participants learn to tune into the biovalue of the body and its anatomical usefulness by focusing on the actions involved in dissection (the haptic gaze, manual tool-use, the affordances of multimodal displays) and not the object of those actions (the former living person).
Chapter 7: Acknowledging Personhood
Anatomical Donation and the Gift Analogy
This praise of dissection and cadaveric anatomy is not the only epideictic discourse to structure the experiences and practices of the lab. In fact, the entire process and philosophy of anatomical gift giving and anatomy education is a result of (perhaps even over-determined by) an epideictic of benevolence and altruism that Fountain calls “the analogy of the gift.” In line with Mauss’s ( 2000) configuration of the gift, this persuasive discourse constructs anatomical donation and education as a benevolent act of gift giving that requires a reciprocal act of responsibility on the part of the staff, instructors, and most importantly the students. This epideixis constitutes the body as a valuable gift to scientific knowledge, medical education, and even the future of healthcare—a gift with biovalue. Participants inevitably filter their experience with cadavers through this body-as-gift and donor-as-gift-giver formulation, allowing them to make peace with dissecting—and thus destroying—the human body. This analogy of the gift influences participants’ daily interactions with their assigned cadavers as well as participants’ thoughts about self-donation.
Chapter 8: Conclusion
Embodied Rhetorical Action
The convergence of visual displays, embodied practices, and rhetorical discourses together form embodied rhetorical action, a type of intercorporeal connection with the world around us. Through the ontological, rhetorical, and socializing force of embodied rhetorical action, participants of the gross lab come to see the physical, material body as the anatomical body of medical knowledge. In the book’s conclusion, Fountain elucidates the implications of his work for other TPC contexts.
Data Collection and Analysis
This brief appendix provides more information about Fountain's methods of data collection and his approach to data analysis. Specifically, two tables offer a detailed account of the data he collected.