Animated Anatomies: The Human Body in Anatomical Texts from the 16th through the 21st Centuries
A Symposium
Monday April 18, 2011
Organized by Valeria Finucci


Abstract of presentations  
Symposium on Animated Anatomies

Andrea Carlino, Institut d’Histoire de la Médecine, Université de Genève
Flap Anatomies and Authorless Culture in 16th Century Europe
Most anatomical fugitive sheets bear in their title the word contrafactus,  its vernacular translations (counterfeit, contrefait) or other vernacular synonyms, such as Vif portrait and True description. These words have a double meaning: the imago contrafacta is a faithful copy of another image, or a veridical representation of something that the artist claims to have personally witnessed. The artist, in calling the image he himself has created a “contrafact,” claims to be a simple eyewitness and reports only what he has seen. Somehow, he aims at disappearing—as an author—behind the objectivity of the artefact and the suggested exact representation of the event or the object he has reproduced—namely the human body. I will discuss the cultural consequences of such a designation and will show how these anatomical broadsides belonged to what we could call the realm of Early Modern authorless culture.  Most printers, print-makers and print-sellers of these broadsheets in fact operated according to a logic of free appropriation, reproduction and diffusion of practical knowledge, contributing to shape a new public of consumers for technical, scientific, and medical matters.

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Michael McVaugh, Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Imagining Interiority: Vesalius and the Kidney
In the sixteenth century, anatomical description necessarily implied physiological or functional explanation, which used two explanatory principles, separately or in combination:  mechanism and attraction.  To be convincing, the former needed to offer some kind of idealized structural model embodying the mechanical action, but attraction did not.  To bolster his contention that the kidney attracted wastes from the blood rather than mechanically filtering them, Andreas Vesalius lampooned the contrary view by imaginatively caricaturing what the idealized interior of a mechanically-acting kidney would have to look like.

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Jules Odendahl-James, Department of Theater Studies, Duke University, and
Mark Olson, Visual Studies, Duke University
Flap and Click: The Performance of Embodiment in Anatomy and the Archive
We take the pragmatic problem of creating a digital archive of flapbook anatomical texts as the occasion to think about the production of anatomical knowledge at the intersection of matter (the body or the book as corpus) and the logics of digital performativity.  In other words, what are the logics of embodiment in this middle ground that attempts to recreate or preserve the object and logic of the flapbook while creating a new object, a digital surrogate that adheres to different logics of volume, space, and interactivity?  Rather than adopt a progressivist history that installs the digital as triumphant endpoint, we instead place the digitization process driving contemporary archival and anatomical preservation practices in a continuum of knowledge production and performance always/already in relationship to the "flapped" anatomical body.

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Maurizio Rippa Bonati, Dipartimento di Scienze Medico-Diagnostiche, University of Padua
Virtual Autopsies: The Human Body in the Animated Volumes of Anatomy between the 16th and the 21th Century
Anatomy is undoubtedly the science that has most used illustrations. The fact that knowledge related to the human body is of interest not only to scientists but to artists as well has contributed to the variety and the beauty of bodily representations. In the surprisingly vast field of anatomic iconography the precise layering of superimposed sheets, each figuring an organ or a system, offers an important context in which to study the human body. In carefully allowing the viewer to lift flaps one by one, the scientist performs what can be called a true virtual autopsy. Doctors, students, academicians, artists, and curious readers can thus literally penetrate, and make a sense of, the “secrets” of nature.


Thomas Robisheaux, Department of History, Duke University
Unfolding the Four Seasons
This paper explores the late Renaissance medical ideas that inform “The Four Seasons,” four late seventeenth-century folio prints on human anatomy contained in the History of Medicine Collection of the Duke University Medical Center Library. Rather than representing a single medical philosophy, the prints represent a hybrid set of ideas, practices and teachings meant to reveal knowledge about human anatomy normally hidden to the eye.

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Michael Sappol, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Washington, DC
The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate: Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 20th-Century Anatomy
This is a story about how, in 19th- and 20th-century Europe and North America, people made flap anatomies, topographic anatomies, and anatomical transparencies that mimetically referred back to the dimensionality of the lived body. I’m going to talk about topographical cross-sectional anatomy—dissections in which the body is cut into successive layers that can be then transcribed as pages of a book or a sequence of prints or slides. And how topographic anatomy influenced and was, in turn, influenced by flap anatomy. I will then discuss, how in the 20th century, medical illustrators and publishers developed a new technique of three dimensional anatomical layering: the anatomical transparency. I will end by showing some examples of how transparent layers and flaps have been used to reconstitute the body in contemporary anatomical spectacle.

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Valerie Traub, Departments of English and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
Anatomy, Cartography, and the Prehistory of Normality
What accounts for the presence of maps in theaters dedicated to exploring the interior of the human body and to comparing it to other examples of God’s creation?  In what way was cartographic representation implicated in the pursuit of anatomical knowledge, and vice versa?  To the extent that previous scholars have acknowledged the presence of maps in theaters of dissection, they have gestured toward civic pride, the relevance of comparing the microcosm to the macrocosm, or the role of overseas ventures to the provision of comparative specimens. While these activities undoubtedly are relevant, this paper explores the conjunction of anatomy and cartography to argue for a further epistemological connection. The shared graphic idiom of anatomy and cartography demonstrates the specific material and intellectual conditions that provided the epistemological wherewithal to begin to think in terms of classification, comparison, and universalization, and to apply this systematizing habit of thought to diverse populations across the globe.  The convergence of anatomy and cartography anticipates and contributes to a paradigmatic shift in the early modern evaluation of material and intellectual life, whereby a medieval style of reasoning governed by appeals to nature was absorbed into, and gradually superseded by, a modern reasoning based on norms.

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Whitney Tretien, Department of English, Duke University
The Cutting-edge Technology of Paper Dissections & Paste Anatomies
Today, we think of the book as a relatively passive medium, read in silence and solitude. Flap anatomies challenge this perceived passivity, transforming the printed page into an interactive platform for dissecting paper bodies. Piecing together what little is known about how these moving parts were made, this presentation investigates early modern flap-books as highly collaborative, cutting-edge technologies, software to the printed book's hardware.

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History of Medicine Collections, Duke’s Medical Center Library 10:00-11:30
Biddle Rare Book Room, Perkins Library 1:00-6:00
Reception and Tour of the Exhibit “Animated Anatomies,” Perkins Library Hall 6:00-7:00

Monday, April 18, 2011
 History of Medicine Collections, Medical Center Library
Tour of the History of Medicine exhibit, including the "Four Seasons," which will be on display in the reading room
*        Rachel Ingold, Curator, History of Medicine Collections, Duke University
“Layers of Knowledge: Expanding Learning Opportunities with Anatomical Flap Books”

Coffee and pastry will be served

11:45-12:45 Lunch, Duke Faculty Commons

1:00-2:45, Biddle Rare Book Room, Perkins Library

*        Valeria Finucci, Romance Studies Department, Director Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Duke University, and co-curator of the exhibit 
Welcome: “Anatomy and Flaps

*      Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGallonardo Holloway University Librarian, Duke University 

*       Maurizio Rippa-Bonati, Dipartimento di Scienze Medico-Diagnostiche, University of Padua, co-curator of the exhibit 
“Virtual Autopsies: The Human Body in the Animated Volumes of Anatomy between the 16th and the 21st century”(introduced by Ronald Witt, History Department, Duke University)

*       Jules Odendahl-James, Department of Theater Studies, Duke University, and 
*       Mark Olson, Visual Studies, Duke University
 “Flap and Click: The Performance of Embodiment in Anatomy and the Archive” (introduced by Sara Galletti, Art History Department, Duke University)

*       Michael McVaugh, Department of History, UNC
“Imagining Interiority: Vesalius and the Kidney” (introduced by Eliza Glaze, History Department, Coastal Carolina University and National Humanities Center)

2:45-3:00 Break. Coffee and pastry will be served


*       Andrea Carlino, Institut d’Histoire de la Médecine, University of Geneva
"Flap Anatomies and Authorless Culture" (introduced by Margaret Humphreys, History Department, Duke University)

 *       Thomas Robisheaux, Department of History, Duke University 
“Unfolding the Four Seasons” (introduced by Terrence Holt, Social Medicine Department, UNC)

4:15-4:30 Break. Coffee and pastry will be served


*       Valerie Traub, English Department and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
“Anatomy, Cartography, and the Prehistory of Normality” (introduced by Philip Stern, History Department, Duke University)

*       Whitney Tretien, Department of English, Duke University 
“The Cutting-Edge Technology of Paper Dissections and Paste Anatomies” (introduced by Maureen Quilligan, English Department, Duke University)

*       Michael Sappol, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Washington DC 
“The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate: Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 20th Century Anatomy” (introduced by Peter English, History Department, Duke University)

Guided Visit of the Exhibit “Animated Anatomies: The Human Body in Anatomical Texts”
Maurizio Rippa-Bonati and Margaret Brown,
 Exhibits coordinator and Special Collections conservator, Perkins Library

The exhibit, which runs from April 6th through July 17th, 2011, is curated by Professor Valeria Finucci and Prof. Maurizio Rippa-Bonati, with the assistance of Margaret Brown and Rachel Ingold

6:00-7:00 Reception
Animated Anatomies is sponsored by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Trent Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Department of Romance Studies, the Department of History, the Center for European Studies, Perkins Library, and the Medical Center Library & Archives