Held October 5, 2013.
Michael Benson is a widely published writer (The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and others), award-winning filmmaker (the 1995 documentary on the cultural and artistic backdrop to the fall of Yugoslavia, Predictions of Fire), and photographer/image processor. His books compiling and elucidating planetary and galactic marvels include Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes (2003), Far Out: A Space-Time Chronicle (2009), and last year’s Planetfall. His most recent film is a feature-length global, and indeed galactic, road movie, entitled More Places Forever. And he is currently at work on a book of electron-microscopic images.
Elizabeth L. Bradley, PhD
Elizabeth L. Bradley is an historian whose interests include the human archaeology of New York City as well as the intersections of literature, science, and American popular culture. Her books include Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York (Rutgers University Press, 2009) and New York (forthcoming from Reaktion Books). Dr. Bradley is also the editor of the Penguin Classics edition of Washington Irving’s A History of New York. She has contributed articles on New York’s singular features to numerous anthologies, as well as to publications such as Edible Brooklyn, Bookforum, and The New York Times. Dr. Bradley is currently at work on a history of the impact of the eugenics movement on American arts and letters. She lives in Brooklyn.
Marie Dauenheimer is a board-certified medical illustrator working in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. She creates medical illustrations and animations for interactive media, websites, apps, and publications. Marie received her master’s degree in medical and biological illustration from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she was introduced to the carbon dust technique. In addition to maintaining a successful medical illustration business, Marie organizes educational travel opportunities through the Vesalius Trust. These “Art and Anatomy Tours” to Europe offer the chance to study the vast history of art and anatomy by visiting dissecting theatres, anatomy museums, anatomical wax collections, and art collections.
Mark Dery is a cultural critic. He has been a professor of journalism at NYU, a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at UC Irvine, and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome. His books include The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink and Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century. His latest book is the essay collection I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams. Dery is at work on a biography of the author, illustrator, and legendary eccentric Edward Gorey for Little, Brown.
Colin Dickey is the author of Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius and Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith. He is a regular contributor to Lapham’s Quarterly and The LA Review of Books.
Samuel Strong Dunlap, PhD
Samuel Strong Dunlap traces his interest in Charles Willson Peale to his frequent use of museum collections in his research as well as his descendant relationship through Peale’s eldest son, Raphaelle. His areas of interest include early human evolution, musculoskeletal anatomy of primates, forensics, and Darwin studies. He teaches anthropology at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. Following a postdoctoral fellowship in the Anatomy Department of Howard University College of Medicine, Dr. Dunlap has recently returned to anatomical research, dissecting human, ape, monkey, and opossum limbs. He is also engaged in an analysis of the New York school artist Mark Rothko’s signature work. His wife, Marie Dauenheimer, joins him in this study, which will provide a scientific anthropological explanation for the universal sublime/spiritual experience that Rothko sought.
Joanna Ebenstein is an artist and independent researcher. She runs the Morbid Anatomy Blog and Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn, which makes available her collection of books, artifacts, and curiosities relating to medical museums and the history of anatomy. She also produces the Morbid Anatomy event series, with workshops, field trips, lectures, symposia, and spectacles devoted to the anatomical and the arcane for audiences in New York, Los Angeles, London, and beyond. She is the coauthor of Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy (Constable and Robinson, 2013) and coeditor of the upcoming Morbid Anatomy Anthology. She is currently acting as researcher for The Wellcome Collection in London.
Daniel Erker is a member of the music collective Jones Street Station. In addition to composing and recording, Danny plays mandolin, banjo, and guitars, and, on the side, professes linguistics at Boston University.
Jane Gauntlett has served as a performer, writer, and producer for such esteemed companies and UK venues as Complicite, Barbican, Shunt, Battersea Arts Centre, Edinburgh Fringe, and the National Theatre from her base in London. In 2009 she cofounded Sublime & Ridiculous, a company born out of a desire to communicate the incommunicable by way of inspired storytelling and innovative technology, allowing participants to be led astray by their own senses. In 2011, she launched In My Shoes as a project to help people in extreme, unique, and difficult situations communicate their experiences to wider society through art and first-person documentary, a project that has seen her working with doctors, scientists, transgender people, people with mental health issues, human rights activists, caregivers, and paramedics across the world.
Bill Hayes, a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction (2013-14), is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the author of Sleep Demons: An Insomniac’s Memoir; Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood; and The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray’s Anatomy. He is currently at work on a new book, Sweat: A History of Exercise.
Amy Herzog, PhD
Amy Herzog is Coordinator of the Film Studies Program at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she is on the faculties of music, theater, and women’s studies, and associate professor of media studies at Queens College. She is the author of Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film (Minnesota, 2010), and coeditor, with Carol Vernallis and John Richardson, of The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media (Oxford University Press, 2013). She has published work on philosophy, film, popular music, pornography, architecture, rats, and sideshow attractions.
Michael Johns, PhD
Michael Johns is a social psychologist currently residing in New York City. He has published more than a dozen research articles and book chapters on a variety of topics, including terror management theory. Before moving to New York City, Dr. Johns was an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Wyoming.
Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer, and activist whose work focuses on socially challenged bodies such as her own (she was born in 1958 with spina bifida). Her portraits have been featured in such venues as the United Nations, the Chicago Cultural Center, and both the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Her writing and visual art are included in the new anthology Sex and Disability (Duke University Press), and she has been the subject of several documentaries, including The Paper Mirror, by Charissa King-O’Brien (with graphic novelist Alison Bechdel), and Self Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer by David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches drawing and anatomy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a visiting artist in medical humanities at Northwestern University.
Dániel Margócsy, PhD
Dániel Margócsy is an assistant professor of early modern European history at Hunter College—CUNY. He was the 2012–13 Birkelund Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the New York Public Library. A historian of science by training, he has published articles on the development of taxonomy, the visual culture of early modern anatomy, and the aesthetics of curiosities. He has coedited “States of Secrecy,” a special issue of the British Journal for the History of Science, and his forthcoming book Commercial Visions: Science, Trade and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age will be published in 2014 by the University of Chicago Press.
Salvador Olguín was born in Monterrey, Mexico and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. He holds a masters degree in humanities and social thought from NYU. Olguín’s work focusing on the role of postmortem photography in contemporary Mexican culture has recently been published in journals and book chapters in New York and Spain
Oliver Sacks, MD
London-born (1933) and New York-based, Oliver Sacks is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books and is a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine. He is best known for his collections of neurological case histories, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985); Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007); The Mind’s Eye (2010); and his latest, Hallucinations (2013). Awakenings (1973), his book about a group of patients who had survived the great encephalitis lethargica epidemic of the early twentieth century, inspired the 1990 Academy Award–nominated feature film starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. The New York Times has referred to him as “the poet laureate of medicine.”
Michael Sappol, PhD
Michael Sappol is a historian in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health), Bethesda, MD. His scholarly work focuses on the body and the history of anatomy, the history of death, and the history of medical illustration and display and medical film. He is the author of A Traffic of Dead Bodies (2002) and Dream Anatomy (2006), and editor of Hidden Treasure (Blast Books, 2012). His current book project, nearly complete, is How to Get Modern with Scientific Illustration. He lives in Washington, DC.
Sigrid Sarda constructs life-size human ﬁgures made of wax incorporating human remains, in the tradition of the doll as a magical object. The ﬁgures become talismans, reliquaries housing human bones. In the tradition of the diorama, each tableaux is peppered with the grotesque, comic, and at times empathetic life-size characters along with backdrops of popular cultural and biblical icons, engaging in what our culture deems acceptable by today’s standards. Borrowing from fables, allegories, and fairytales, with her characteristic dark humor, Sarda creates a world of ﬂipped morality and a decaying system of values run amok.
Carl Schoonover, PhD
Carl Schoonover is a postdoctoral fellow in the Axel laboratory at Columbia University, where he studies the neural circuitry of instinctual fear behaviors. He is the author of Portraits of the Mind and has written for The New York Times, Le Figaro, and Scientific American, and he cofounded NeuWrite, a collaborative working group for scientists, writers, and those in between. Schoonover’s radio program, on WKCR 89.9FM, focuses on opera, classical music, and their relationship to the brain.
Daniel K. Smith
Daniel K. Smith is a collector, bookbinder, and the proprietor of Strike Three Press, which publishes limited-edition books. Dedicated to maintaining traditional hand binding and printing methods, Strike Three Press publishes the work of American illustrators. Its most recent effort is Brooklyn’s Rescued Bestiary by Virginia Cahill with engravings by David Klein. Letterpress printed and hand bound in an edition of 64 copies, it was reviewed in Communication Arts Illustration Annual 52 and is part of the permanent collection of the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. Strike Three Press books are in the permanent collections of Haverford College, the Schomberg Center of The New York Public Library, and the University of Denver.
Lawrence Weschler, curator and interlocutor at today’s event, was for more than twenty years (1981–2001) a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. From 2001 through this past September he was the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU (and for much of that time, concurrently, the artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival). His more than fifteen books include Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees (a biography of artist Robert Irwin), Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (on the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA), and most recently Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative. (portrait: Riva Lehrer, Lawrence Weschler: PT Barnum of the Mind, 2008)
Kriota Willberg has an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College. Through drawing, writing, performance, and needlework she explores the intersection of body sciences with creative practice. She has taught anatomy to artists working in a variety of media, as well as pathology and massage technique. Willberg has studied personal training and exercise and is a licensed massage therapist. Her blog examines medical themes through the lens of Hollywood films. Willberg’s projects have received support from the American Antiquarian Society, the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Dixon Place Theater, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Franklin Furnace, and others. She currently works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a massage therapist.