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Week 17: Envisioning Health: Visual Culture and the History of Medicine

Lecturer: Jane Hand

Within cultural and social history there has been a slow re-orientation toward the use of images as productive sources in analysing the past. The turn to the visual within history has had important ramifications on the study of not only the production of images and objects, but also the understandings of what it means to see and comprehend a variety of representations. In particular, the history of medicine as a sub-discipline is particularly well visualised. From eighteenth and nineteenth century medical portraits and atlases, to the microscope, X-Ray and ultrasound, the act of viewing has been pivotal to the development of Western medical science. This week we will explore the potential of visual culture in understanding the history of medicine. Guiding students through the rigorous use of images as historical sources, we will examine the place of representations within the history of medicine.


Disscusion/Essay Questions:


Required Reading:

Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking: An introduction to Visual Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 10-41.

Ludmilla Jordanova, ‘Medicine and Visual Culture’, Social History of Medicine 3:1 (1990), pp. 89-99.

Martin Gorsky, Krzysztof Krajewski-Siuda, Wojciech Dutka and Virginia Berridge, ‘Anti-Alcohol Posters in Poland, 1945-1989: Diverse Meanings, Uncertain Effects’, American Journal of Public Health: Public Health Then and Now 100:11 (2010), pp. 2059-2069.


Further Reading:

Lisa Cartwright, Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995).

Roger Cooter and Claudia Stein, ‘Visual Objects and Universal Meanings: Aids Posters and the Politics of Globalization and History,’ Medical History, 55 (2011).

Roger Cooter and Claudia Stein, ‘Coming into Focus: Posters, power, and visual culture in the history of medicine’ Medizinhistorisches 42 (2007), pp. 180-209

Sander L. Gilman, Disease and Representation: Images of Illness from Madness to AIDS (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988).

Sander L. Gilman, Picturing Health and Illness: Images of Identity and Difference (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1995).

Ludmilla Jordanova, The Look of the Past: Visual and Material Evidence in Historical Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Gillian Rose, Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Images (London: Sage, 2001).