Tuesday, April 25, 2017
“Posing with the Cadaver: Violence, Identity, and Photographic Group Portraiture in American Medicine, 1880-1930"
Between 1880 and 1930, the most common way that American medical students chose to have themselves photographed together at work was in the dissecting room, gathered around “their” cadaver. What does it mean that students made this choice at the moment when the new version of scientific medicine was in the ascendant, with its celebration of reductionism and its epistemological and moral virtues and the re-grounding of medical education in the laboratory? Gross anatomy was the most antiquated of the basic medical sciences, the most distanced from the experimental laboratory. Drawing on a close reading of about a thousand photographs from archives across North America—contextualized using students’ diaries and letters, inscriptions on the photographs, and the wider visual repertoire of American culture—Professor Warner examines the transgressive, oftentimes exuberant violence signaled by these photographic group portraits and its role in students’ affective experience and professional formation. The violence of these scenes, like the practice of human dissection itself, was not just classed but racialized, firmly linked to such other sites of racial violence as the graveyard, gallows, and lynching ground. Attention is given to the African-American porter, janitor, or dissecting room attendant—tasked with procuring predominantly black bodies and disposing of the remains—who sometimes appears in the photographs. These liminal figures often played a role in anatomical instruction yet their inclusion in the photographs reinforced the declaration of a cohesive group identity rooted in class, race, gender, and command. The creation, circulation, and display of these photographs not only commemorated a social, moral, and emotional boundary crossing but also expressed power hierarchies and against-the-grain aesthetic preferences that were constitutive ingredients in grounding modern medicine.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
SISP Senior Thesis Presentations
12pm - 1pm