HISTORY AND CULTURAL REPRESENTATIONS OF HUMAN REMAINS
EXPLORA (CAS–EA 801/Toulouse Natural History Museum) in partnership with the Academy of Medicine (Paris) and the Hunterian Museum (Museums and Archives, Royal College of Surgeons, London)
This series of 3 interdisciplinary conferences to be held at the Natural History Museum of Toulouse (February 4, 2013), the Academy of Medicine in Paris (April, 4, 2013) and the Hunterian Museum in London (June 4, 2013) will examine the relationship between anatomical knowledge and practice and their cultural representations so as to offer an overview of the cultural reception of the exhibition of human remains. The conferences are aimed at scholars from a variety of medical humanities disciplines.
MEDICAL MUSEUMS AND ANATOMICAL COLLECTIONS
Natural History Museum— Toulouse
February 4, 2013
Although modern anatomy owes a lot to comparative anatomy, the fairly recent separation between natural history museums and medical museums in the mid-nineteenth century has tended to obscure this connection. This conference intends to focus on the constitution, rise and evolution of medical museums and the ways in which the constitution of anatomical collections has been represented in literature and the arts. It will look at matters ranging from the use of menageries for anatomical research to the proximity between human and animal remains in medical museums, as well as issues of classification and organisation. The importance of zoological specimens in medical museums and the role played by animal remains in the constitution of private medical collections and pathological museums will be central to this conference, which aims to trace the impact of comparative anatomy on human anatomy and examine the debates raised by anatomists’ methods of investigation, such as those concerning vivisection or the human and humanity, as in the case of criminals or ‘savages’. By analysing the history of this aspect of medical museums together with its reception and popularisation, this conference will focus on the evolution of the representation of humans and animals as objects of medical investigation and look at literature and the arts as significant media playing an active part in the history of medicine.
We invite 20-minute papers that engage with, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- medical museums and/as cabinets of curiosities
- medical museums and comparative anatomy
- animals and/in medical research
- collecting, preserving, classifying human and animal remains
- the location and architecture of medical museums
- medical museums, humans and humanity
- anatomical collections and the rise of criminal anthropology
- anatomical collections and the rise of ethnology
- representations of mad collectors/anatomists/surgeons
Please send 300-word proposals (attached as a .doc-file; in French or English), together with a short biographical note to Laurence Talairach-Vielmas (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Rafael Mandressi (email@example.com). Please write ‘EXPLORA/Medical Museums and Anatomical Collections/Abstract’ as email object. Deadline for submissions: September 1, 2012. Contributors will be notified that their proposal has been accepted by mid-October 2012.
Academy of Medicine—Paris
April 4, 2013
The second conference will look at anatomical models, their role in the history of anatomy and their cultural reception and representation. It aims to contextualise the rise of anatomical modelling and collections of wax models, and trace the history of natural anatomies and other media implicated in the teaching of anatomy and in representations of the human body as both aesthetic objects and informational tools. The conference will also illuminate the contrast between anatomical images and 3-D models, as well as between wax models (such as the differences between natural anatomies made from bodily remains and artificial wax models). Furthermore, it will attempt to interrogate the role that women played in this aspect of the history of anatomy, the differences between male and female natural anatomies and wax figures, as well as the audiences that these collections were intended for. This conference will also draw upon the long historical relationship between art and anatomy in order to identify the relationship between the realism of some media and enduring mythic elements, and examine how knowledge, even when giving an impression of immediate access, is fabricated, as typified by the poses or positions and facial attitudes of many a medical Venus. The history of anatomical models will also be studied through their literary representations: the conference will highlight the role that literature played in the popularisation of anatomical tools (from anatomical images to models), how literature and the arts traced their transformations and evolution, participated in the rise or fall of certain media, and pointed to gender or ethical issues related to the making or use of anatomical models.
We invite 20-minute papers that engage with, but are not limited to, the following topics :
- anatomical models in medical museums/fairs/shows
- anatomical knowledge, media and body representation
- anatomical knowledge, models and medical education
- the fabrication of anatomical knowledge
- anatomical models, realism and artificiality
- anatomical models and aestheticization
- anatomical models and the macabre
- anatomical models and pathology
- anatomical models and gender representation
- anatomical models and death
- anatomical models and sexuality
- anatomical models and gynecology, midwifery
- anatomical models and legislation
Please send 300-word proposals (attached as a .doc-file; in French or English), together with a short biographical note to Laurence Talairach-Vielmas (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Rafael Mandressi (email@example.com). Please write ‘EXPLORA/Anatomical Models/Abstract’ as email object. Deadline for submissions: September 1, 2012. Contributors will be notified that their proposal has been accepted by mid-October 2012.
EXHIBITING HUMAN REMAINS
4 June 2013
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the issue of emotional responses related to the dissection and exhibition of human remains was increasingly at the heart of debates related to the constitution (and closing down) of medical museums. This last conference will analyse the reception of medical museums and their exhibited human remains, focusing more particularly on the impact of an increasingly fragmented and commodified human body. The conference will therefore look at the history of and debates around the exhibition of human remains and how these debates were represented in literature and the arts. It will investigate the changes in representation, tracing the evolution from the aestheticized bodies of the Renaissance to the human remains exhibited in nineteenth-century medical museums, and also explore how the exhibition of human remains radically changed ideas about the diffusion of knowledge and the relation between science and nature as well as suggested new epistemological strategies. Using literature and the arts as significant media in the popularisation of a new scopic regime (examining, for instance, literary and artistic representations of embalmed corpses, exhibited skeletons or bottled specimens), the conference will highlight the way in which the artistic field often offered a more humanized or ethically more complex version of the gruesome business of dissection that anatomists and curators were daily trying to make presentable to their audiences. In this way, the conference will probe the links between episteme and transgression, and call attention to the ethical questions that were raised (and still are) by the exhibition (or even trafficking) of human remains.
We invite 20-minute papers that engage with, but are not limited to, the following topics :
- the history of the exhibition of human remains in medical essays, journals, manuals of dissection
- the reception of human remains, audiences and gender issues
- the policing of the gaze in medical museums
- audience responses to natural anatomies and artificial models
- the links between human remains and other anatomical tools
- human remains, ethics and medicine
- exhibited human remains and anatomical legislation
- representations of human remains in broadsides, pamphlets, caricatures, advertising and fiction
- representations of the corpse as commodity/anatomical material
- representations of tissue trafficking
- the reception/representation of human remains and the issue of mortality
- the meaning(s) of human remains
- human remains in Gothic/sensation/detective fiction
- representations of anatomists and bodysnatchers in fiction and non-fiction (essays, manuscripts, letters, diaries, etc.)
- stories and testimonies relating supplies of cadavers, the relation between anatomists and grave-robbers, dissection
Please send 300-word proposals (attached as a .doc-file; in English only), together with a short biographical note to Laurence Talairach-Vielmas (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Rafael Mandressi (email@example.com). Please write ‘EXPLORA/Exhibiting Human Remains/Abstract’ as email object. Deadline for submissions: September 1, 2012. Contributors will be notified that their proposal has been accepted by mid-October 2012.