The Body on Display, from Renaissance to Enlightenment

Durham University, 6-7 July 2010 An interdisciplinary symposium for early career researchers, supported by the Society for the Social History of Medicine

Keynote speaker: Dr. Peter Mitchell (University of Wales, Lampeter) At once an organ system, disciplinary target, metaphor, creation of God, cultural construction, ‘self’ and receptacle for the soul, it is not surprising that the body has fallen under the attention of historians of art, gender, thought, medicine, theatre and costume, and of literary scholars, archaeologists and historical sociologists and philosophers.

This symposium will look at the human and human-like body on, and as, display, between c.1400 and c.1800. We will explore the notion, and reality, of the exposure of the inner and outer human form, and the representational, visual and material cultures of the body. This was a formative (and even transformative) period for the visual and representational culture of human corporeality, witnessing the watersheds of Renaissance and Enlightenment, challenges to long-held understandings of the body and, allegedly, both the creation of the modern ‘self’ and the eventual secularization of Western society.

Possible topics might include (but are not limited to):

-Dissection, the medical ‘gaze’ and medical illustration

-Corporeality and the flesh in the visual, written and performing arts

-The body in religious iconography, hagiography and religious performance

-Gesture, kinesics and the expression of emotions

-Corporal punishment and bodily shaming

-Clothing, garments and cosmetics and their significance

Papers of 20 minutes are invited from postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers working on any part of the period. Studies looking at non-European countries are especially encouraged, as is flexibility in approaching the body as a visual, performative, aesthetic and representational entity. Please send abstracts (of no more than 300 words) to [email protected] by 30 January 2010.

The symposium will be held immediately before the Society for the Social History of Medicine’s annual conference 2010 (also at Durham University), to facilitate early career attendance at both events. It will be accompanied by an exhibition of original materials to be held at Palace Green Library, Durham University.

Please see the website or email [email protected] for more information.