Schedule for the Festival of Medical History & the Arts

Held October 5, 2013.

Tours

11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM; 3:30 PM
Introduction to the Rare Book Collections & the Gladys Brooks Book and Paper Conservation Lab — Meet in First Floor Lobby

In this guided tour of the Romanesque Revival structure, built in 1925–1926, you’ll get an introduction to our collections with Arlene Shaner, Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections, and Rebecca Pou, Archivist. You’ll have the chance to see some of our rare medical books up close and get a behind-the-scenes tour of our book and paper conservation laboratory with lab head and conservator Erin Albritton, senior conservator Anne Hillam, and conservator Christina Amato.

Every hour on the half hour, starting at 11:30; meet in the First Floor Lobby.

Hosack Hall

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Carl Schoonover and Michael Benson – A Cosmic/Neuronal Slapdown
Neuroscientist Carl Schoonover (Portraits of the Mind) pits his laptop full of awe-inspiring electron-microscopic images of the brain against that of filmmaker/editor Michael Benson (Beyond, Far Out, and Planetfall), full as it is of stunning super-telescopic images of the solar system and the galaxies. (With musical accompaniment: the “Dueling Banjos” theme from Deliverance.)

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Lawrence Wechsler and Bill Hayes – A Pair of Anatomy Lessons

Art writer and curator Lawrence Weschler (Vermeer in Bosnia) discourses on Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson and then engages essayist Bill Hayes in a conversation about the legendary anatomist Henry Gray (the subject of his book Gray’s Anatomy).

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Dániel Margócsy – The Royal Treatment

Starting out from a consideration of the exquisitely agonizing last hours of Mazarin (as evoked at length by Roberto Rossellini in his film The Taking of Power of Louis XIV), Hunter College historian Dániel Margócsy discusses what once passed for the height of medical care (bloodletting, stool analysis, leeches, and the like) and compares it with our current practices.

3:15 PM – 4:00 PM
Jane Gauntlett – What it Feels Like to Have an Epileptic Fit

One day in 2005, Jane Gauntlett, a 25-year-old trainee theater producer from North London was brutally attacked in broad daylight while bicycling. Robbed and left for dead with massive head injuries, she survived and recovered, albeit plagued by several grand mal seizures a week. Gauntlett developed a highly imaginative way to convey the actual felt experience of such seizures (and other such medical episodes), which she has demonstrated to audiences throughout the world.

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Oliver Sacks – The Guardian Spirits Behind Awakenings

Filmmaker Bill Morrison’s new 15-minute documentary will be screened and followed by a discussion between Oliver Sacks and curator Lawrence Weschler. Morrison’s documentary (with music by Philip Glass) was created from more than 5 hours of archival Super 8 film that Sacks shot himself in 1969 at the time of the uncanny awakening of his ward of entranced postencephalitic patients. Oliver Sacks will discuss those days, focusing in particular on the benign influence of two powerful mentors who held sway over his life during that period, the Soviet neuropsychologist A. R. Luria and the English poet W. H. Auden.

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Riva Lehrer – Jarred: Self Portrait in Formaldehyde

Chicago artist Riva Lehrer was born with spina bifida (a split spine) in 1958. Being visibly different has meant that she has often confronted descriptions of her body as stunted, twisted or deformed.  These complicated encounters have led her to think about the human body, both in her practice as a portraitist, and as a highly prized lecturer in anatomy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lehrer’s art explores definitions and truthful representations of the experience of disability, the divide between inner and outer life, the mystery of survival and triumph of the creative mind. Her talk will begin with the unsettling experience last year of coming upon a fetal specimen very like herself on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.

Room 21

11:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Salvador Olguín – An 18th Century Mexican Biography of Death

La Portentosa vida de la muerte (The Astounding Life of Death) is a rare, fantastically illustrated 18th-century book recounting the many adventures in the life of Death, conceived as a woman. Author Joaquín Bolaños (1741–1796) tells the story of “The Empress of the Sepulchers” from her humble beginnings in the Garden of Eden, where she is said to have been born from Adam’s Sin and Eve’s Guilt, to her dramatic destruction on Judgment Day. Banned by the Inquisition, this subversive, satirical tragicomedy with engravings by Francisco Agüera Bustamante (active 1784–1829), one of the earliest satirical illustrators in Mexico, had a lasting influence on Mexico’s popular representations of death. This lecture will discuss this irreverent book, focusing on cultural attitudes toward death in Mexico from pre-Columbian times to the present day, touching on subjects such as Day of the Dead, rural Mexican postmortem photography of the 1940s and ’50s, and the contemporary worship of Santa Muerte.

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Elizabeth L. Bradley – The Pygmy and the Protoplasm: Eugenics Goes to the (Human) Zoo

Since the 1876 Philadelphia exposition, the World’s Fairs enthralled America with the introduction of thrilling inventions (the telephone, Heinz Ketchup, the Ferris Wheel, cotton candy). But at the end of the nineteenth century, the World’s Fair also featured lavish anthropological exhibitions with large ethnographic enclosures, re-created habitats in which “exotic” natives from around the globe performed traditional tasks for thousands of curious, mostly Anglo-Saxon spectators. These “human zoos,” the descendant of the villages nègres of Victorian colonial expositions, offered ethnographers a rare opportunity to observe, measure, and analyze other races. Their observations lent inspiration and encouragement to practitioners of the new discipline of eugenics, which soon brought field researchers to the freak shows at Coney Island, that ne plus ultra of human zoos.

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
Dániel Margócsy – The Anatomy of the Corpse: Ruysch, Descartes, and the Problem of Wax

Dániel Margócsy will survey early modern efforts in accurate visualization of the human body, touching on Descartes’ philosophical musings on the nature of representation and the vibrant anatomical culture of the contemporary Dutch Republic, where the French philosopher resided for much of his adult life. Margócsy will examine in detail the working methods of Dutch physician Frederik Ruysch, famous for his macabre tableaus, who hoped that engraved illustrations and anatomical preparations were imaging techniques that might offer a faithful representation of human life immune to Cartesian skepticism over the reliability of images.

12:30 – 1:00 PM
Mark Dery – Gray Matter: The Obscure Pleasures of Medical Libraries

Medical libraries such as the New York Academy of Medicine’s offer ready access to a mother lode of “invisible literature,” the SF novelist J. G. Ballard’s term for medical textbooks, scientific journals, technical manuals, and other gray matter. Although it comprises a veritable galaxy in the universe of print media, invisible literature is nowhere to be found in general-interest bookstores and is never reviewed in mainstream book pages for the simple fact that no one, not even the specialists who are its intended audience, thinks of this stuff as literature in the literary sense of the word. But what if we did?

1:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Carl Schoonover – Premodern Neuroscience: Antiquity to Cajal

Our understanding of the brain depends in large part on the tools that were invented to look at it. Confronted with an undifferentiated mass of gray, students of the nervous system have had to get clever and probe it in ingenious ways. This talk will present a whirlwind survey beginning with the earliest attempts to interact with this extraordinarily complex organ, up to the seminal technical innovations in the late 19th century that launched the modern field.

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Amy Herzog – Momento Mori: Reflections on Death and the Art of the Tableau

Amy Herzog will survey a spectrum of artistic and museological dioramas, waxworks, and postmortem photographic practices, and the hermetic, frozen worlds each offer to the viewer. Something profoundly fetishistic and mildly necrophilic lies at the heart of the diorama—an apparent desire to encapsulate and reanimate those items on display. The paradoxical tension between preservation and regeneration seems germane to the 19th-century imagination in general, the moment at which many of the visual practices Herzog will discuss came into being. While dioramas in particular are driven by a certain pedagogic directive, their lessons are more ambiguous than their creators likely imagined.

2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Marie Dauenheimer – 18th and 19th Century Anatomical Models in European Collections

In this illustrated presentation, Marie Dauenheimer will examine the art and history of the wax anatomical models of the Museo Zoologico La Specola in Florence, Italy. From the mid-18th to early 19th century, the museum’s Wax Modeling Workshop created more than 2,000 wax models of human anatomy, widely considered to be the finest in the world. Dauenheimer will discuss how and why these anatomical masterpieces were created, who the anatomists and artists were who created them, and the place of these collections in the history of anatomical art, touching as well on the wax anatomical models of Bologna, which predate those of La Specola, and Dr. Louis Auzoux’s dissectible papier-mâché anatomical models.

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Samuel Strong Dunlap – Peale’s Museum or Peale’s Museum in Philadelphia

From its beginning, Charles Willson Peale’s museum in Philadelphia, opened in 1786, expressed a clear message of collection presentation arranged along the lines of the latest available scientific principles. Peale and his talented progeny were some of the last of the 18th-century naturalists, a time when early professional scientists were just emerging. The very progressive educational and scientific approach of the Peales includes many fascinating links with early evolutionist ideas and modern medicine.

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Mike Sappol – Radiant modernity: An iconography of rays, beams, and waves, 1920-1960

As technologies of industrial modernity proliferated between 1920 and 1960, the public was gripped by a technomania for rays, beams, and waves. Electromagnetism, radioactivity, radio waves, X-rays, ultra-violet rays, infra-red rays, cosmic rays, gamma rays, brain waves—and all sorts of exotic, miraculous, and terrible rays soon to be discovered or invented—received effulgent representation in illustrated science-fiction, movies, comic books, and other entertainments. In a talk richly illustrated with images commissioned by popular science writer Fritz Kahn, Mike Sappol will present the world in luminous transition as electrification came to cities all over the world in the 1920s and ’30s. Fritz Kahn was among those enchanted with rays, beams, and waves, and was eager to cater to his readers’ enchantment with the same. His five-volume series Das Leben des Menschen (“The Life of Man”), with more than 1,200 modernist artworks illustrating Kahn’s novel concepts for depicting physiology and function, was published in 1920 in Germany.

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Colin Dickey – Cranioklepty: A Few Thefts of Some Famous Skulls

In the early nineteenth century, with the rise of phrenology, the belief that genius leaves its mark on the shape of the head, the skulls of several famous musicians, artists, and writers were stolen. Among others, between 1790 and 1840, the skulls (or parts thereof) of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Goya, were stolen by a strange mix of phrenologists and other collectors to sell, study, or put on public display. Author Colin Dickey will discuss these stories and the motivations behind this skull thievery.

6:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Michael Johns – Experimenting with Death: An Introduction to the Terror Management Theory

Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker suggested that the capacity to understand one’s mortality and the ways people handle their awareness of their mortality could explain behaviors ranging from genocide to altruism. Terror Management Theory (TMT) was developed based on Becker’s work and provides a scientific framework for testing his idea about death as a core motivator of human behavior. Over the last 25 years researchers have conducted hundreds of studies to test hypotheses derived from TMT. These studies have examined how mortality salience—the awareness of one’s eventual death—influences behaviors ranging from aggression and stereotyping to creativity and sexuality. In this lecture Michael Johns will introduce the theory and discuss experiments that have been conducted to test its tenets.

6:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Daniel K. Smith – Anthropodermic Bibliopegy: Books Bound in Human Skin and the Stories Behind Them

Macabre and disturbing, examples of anthropodermic bibliopegy—or the binding of books in human skin—have been treated as curios and overlooked as objects of serious study. Most were created in the interest of memorializing or as warnings, but some specific volumes were sought out to be rebound in human leather by faddish collectors. Daniel K. Smith has examined, photographed, and researched examples at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, The Grolier Club, and The John Hay Library at Brown University, and found fascinating histories that illuminate worlds as diverse as grave robbing, the King of Belgium, New England highwaymen, and 19th-century Parisian aristocracy.

Main Reading Room, Third Floor

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Kriota Willberg — Musculoskeletal Anatomy on the Body of a Live Model

Kriota Willberg draws musculoskeletal anatomy on the body of a live model. Willberg discusses anatomy, describes the projected artwork, and chats with the audience, as she draws on the model—her living canvas. Willberg’s intricate, colorful anatomical renderings shift and deform as the model moves and shifts position, and projected illustrations present examples of contemporary and historic artistic and scientific representations of the human body and anatomy.
Sorry, cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. We plan to reschedule in 2014.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Sigrid Sarda — Medical Wax Moulage Demonstration

Moulage is the art of making a cast to create a model demonstrating a physical condition, such as a dermatalogical disease or traumatic injury. Sigrid Sarda will demonstrate how a medical wax moulage is created, by casting the affected area of a model with a minor skin condition and then removing the cast from the mold. Because of time constraints, Sarda will show an already completed wax moulage and explain in detail the creative process, illustrating each step. She will discuss current and historical techniques, as well as the use of moulage in medical training.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Mike Sappol — Combat Fatigue Irritability (1945): A “lost” Gene Kelly movie on PTSD

Historian Mike Sappol of the National Library of Medicine introduces Combat Fatigue Irritability, a 1945 wartime naval training film starring Gene Kelly. Kelly plays the role of Seaman Bob Lucas, whose ship was sunk in battle. Although Lucas survives, he suffers from what now might be termed “post-traumatic stress disorder.” With psychiatric help, Lucas moves from illness to wellness. Although Kelly was proud of his excellent performance, few people have seen this film outside of its wartime context. Mike Sappol will provide expert commentary on the development and use of film in both medicine and war and the changing medical understanding of wartime psychological trauma.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Kriota Willberg — Musculoskeletal Anatomy on the Body of a Live Model

Kriota Willberg draws musculoskeletal anatomy on the body of a live model. Willberg discusses anatomy, describes the projected artwork, and chats with the audience, as she draws on the model—her living canvas. Willberg’s intricate, colorful anatomical renderings shift and deform as the model moves and shifts position, and projected illustrations present examples of contemporary and historic artistic and scientific representations of the human body and anatomy.
Sorry, cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. We plan to reschedule in 2014.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Sigrid Sarda — Medical Wax Moulage Demonstration

Moulage is the art of making a cast to create a model demonstrating a physical condition, such as a dermatalogical disease or traumatic injury. Sigrid Sarda will demonstrate how a medical wax moulage is created, by casting the affected area of a model with a minor skin condition and then removing the cast from the mold. Because of time constraints, Sarda will show an already completed wax moulage and explain in detail the creative process, illustrating each step. She will discuss current and historical techniques, as well as the use of moulage in medical training.

Anatomical Workshops (Registration Required)

11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Samuel Strong Dunlap – Dissection and Drawing Workshop With Real Anatomical Specimens

Register Here.
Modern scientific dissection and illustrations date back to the Renaissance. Basic anatomical dissection, illustration, and knowledge remain fundamental to many fields, such as evolutionary biology, surgery, medical education, and forensic science. In this workshop, attendees will dissect and draw a Didelphis virginiana—the North American opossum—a “living fossil” whose anatomy has remained virtually unchanged over the past 70 million years, making it a good model for a basal—i.e., early or original—mammal. Many comparative skeletal materials will be available for examination and illustration, and additional specimens may also be available. Gloves, scalpels, and probes will be provided. Marie Dauenheimer, medical illustrator (and instructor of this afternoon’s carbon dust workshop), will assist with this workshop.

4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Marie Dauenheimer – Carbon Dust Drawing Workshop, Featuring Real Anatomical Specimens

Register Here.
Carbon dust is a technique perfected by the medical artist Max Brodel at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the late 19th century. This technique—an essential component of medical illustration education until the digital age—allows the artist to create luminous, textural, three-dimensional drawings by layering carbon dust on prepared paper.

Today’s one-day intensive workshop will teach students the use of this all but forgotten medium and guide each student in the creation of a finished work based on real anatomical specimens supplied by the instructor. The workshop will also include an historical lecture placing carbon dust drawings in the context of the history of anatomical and medical art. The instructor will provide all materials necessary for this workshop and will also share finished carbon dust drawings.

After Party (Registration Required)

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Festival of Medical History and the Arts After-Party

Register Here.

8 thoughts on “Schedule for the Festival of Medical History & the Arts

  1. Pingback: Festival of Medical History & the Arts | Books, Health and History

  2. Pingback: “Most Wonderful and Glorious Collection of Anatomical Matter in the World:” Popular Anatomy at NYAM; Guest Post by Morbid Anatomy | Books, Health and History

  3. Pingback: “Artist of Death” Frederik Ruysch at NYAM: Guest Post by Morbid Anatomy’s Joanna Ebenstein | Books, Health and History

  4. Pingback: Winsome Fetal Skeletons Bearing Scythes: Monro’s Traité d’ostéologie of 1759: Guest post by Morbid Anatomy | Books, Health and History

  5. There is no date on this page and people are emailing me to go with them this weekend Oct 12 & 13. But I went last weekend and as far as I know this weekend there are no lectures just NY open House. You may want to place some dates on these pages to make it clearer. I had an amazing time last weekend, learned much and saw much! Wonderful place, people and very interesting things!

    • Thanks, Denny. This page has been moved under past events. You’re correct – this weekend we are doing tours for Open House NY, but there won’t be any lectures. Hope to see you then!

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