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Do heads excite a desire to chop them off; a desire to decapitate and take a human life, as anthropologists have suggested? The contributors to this book are fascinated by ‘disembodied heads’, which are pursued in their many medieval and early modern disguises and representations, including the metaphorical. They challenge the question why in medieval and early modern cultures the head was usually considered the most important part of the body, a primacy only contested by the heart for religious reasons. Carefully mapping beliefs, mythologies and traditions concerning the head, the result is an attempt to establish a ‘cultural anatomy’ of the head, which is relevant for cultural historians, art historians and students of the philosophy, art and sciences of the premodern period.

Contributors include Barbara Baert, Esther Cohen, Mateusz Kapustka, Arjan R. de Koomen, Robert Mills, Marina Montesano, Scott B. Montgomery, Catrien Santing, Jetze Touber, and Bert Watteeuw.