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Conference Programme

Programme 09:00 - 09:15 Welcome and intro Dr Jane Draycott, University of Glasgow 09:15-10:15 Keynote Prof Adrienne Mayor, Stanford University 10:15-11:15 Panel 1: Metamorphosis of Bodies Dr Tanika Koosmen, University of Newcastle, Australia [Dis]Playing Changing Bodies: Metamorphic Greco-Roman Myths as “Display” of Form Dr Ryan Denson, University of Exeter: Pickled Tritons: The Bodily Display of (Divine) Cryptids in the Roman Empire COFFEE BREAK 11:15 – 11:30 11:30 - 12:30 Panel 2: First Impressions/Judgement of Bodies Jasmine Sahu-Hough, PhD candidate - Yale University: “The Sort of Man You All See Me To Be”: Visible Disability and Citizenship in Classical Athens Dr Dan Mills, Independent Scholar: Physiognomic Disability in Literary, Statuarial, and Numismatic Depictions of Claudius 12:30 - 13:30 Panel 3: Bodies of Servants Dr Anastasia Meintani, Universität Wien: Bodily Display in the Context of the Banquet Shreya Sharma, Independent Scholar: Visual Arts and British Imperialism in I
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Abstract (keynote speaker): Mythic Creatures and Captive Amazons

  Prof. Adrienne Mayor. Stanford University. Mythic Creatures and Captive Amazons  Motives for and responses to displays of extraordinary bodies in antiquity trace a continuum.   Bodily otherness could elicit negative feelings of disgust and superiority, at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end a sense of wonder and compassion. Motivations could include sensational entertainment, curiosity, domination, and scientific interest. To illustrate the complex diversity of intentions and reactions, my talk looks at how artistic images, literary descriptions, and public exhibits of mythic creatures (Centaurs, Griffins, and the Minotaur); wild animals captured for the Roman arena; anomalous and enslaved humans; and Amazons and female warriors in captivity aroused a range of emotions in viewers. Ancient Greek and Roman artists evoked empathy for hybrid monsters by focusing on their human features and/or their familiar, endearing animal behaviors. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans prefer

Hunterian Museum reopens in London

Not to be confused with the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University (although that's also worth a look if you are attending the conference in person!), London's Hunteraian re-opens tomorrow (16th May) and is chock-full of exhibits that are relevant to our theme of Bodies on Display . Follow the link below to read The Guardian 's Oliver Wainwright write about John Hunter, his collection and the museum refurbishment.

Abstract: Vexed paradox in historic anatomical display – one artist-researcher’s perspective through lived experience

Sarah Scaife, PhD candidate - University of Exeter  Vexed paradox in historic anatomical display – one artist-researcher’s perspective through lived experience  In this paper I push at the question of “how extraordinary individuals […] themselves felt about being displayed”. As a one-breasted researcher, may I propose that we look at this question sideways on? This paper responds to historic wax anatomy models displayed in several European museum collections, in the light of my own lived experience of the challenges and benefits of cancer treatment. Anatomical models of human bodies and body parts, made in the name of scientific progress in 18th and 19th century Europe, have grisly underpinnings. Such wax models were at the forefront of research medicine which ultimately benefited many people, but they have a vexed history. Scientific models of an idealised anatomy were created from a composite of multiple human bodies; these bodies were routinely procured in the context of enforced ma


  Natalia Fernández Díaz-Cabal, Ph.D. Autonomous University of Barcelona and University of Shanghai DISPLAYING, HIDING: NARRATIVES AND IMAGES OF SARCOMA   Despite its "insignificance" from the point of view of its social and cultural impact, sarcoma, throughout its history as an identified and identifiable clinical entity, shows some curiosities that we would like to deal with: its visibility from the monstrous (the dimensions of a sarcoma can be of a remarkable enormity compared to other malignant tumors) to the invisibility of the term itself (sarcoma evokes bitter destinies and especially since the irruption of AIDS - Kaposi's sarcoma - gives it a definitive deadly connotation). This displaying or exhibiting objectifies the patient - the principle that the patient is only his/her illness applies. The human subject is not of interest; only his/her exceptionality and stigma do. In order to understand the meaning of what is displayed, it is necessary to delve into

Abstract: Medical bodies on display: the history and context of medical museums

Cornelia (Nina) Thompson -  PhD Student, Heritage Studies UCL Institute of Archaeology Medical bodies on display: the history and context of medical museums This paper addresses how the historic and current context of bodies on display shapes audience engagement. Most existing literature around bodies in museums centres anthropological collections. This research focuses on medical museums, demonstrating how the history and context of these collections affects their reception. Medical museums started with anatomical collections to train doctors, limiting access to medical students and practitioners. However, since the mid-20th century these collections have increasingly opened to the public, attracting growing interest and investment. Even though these collections are no longer limited to medical education, what effect does the medical framing of these bodies continue to have? Bodies in a medical context are defined by disconnection while also intended to stand in for a generalised

Abstract: Pathological Bodies: Visitor attitudes towards the display of historical potted specimens at two British medical museums.

Aoife Sutton-Butler (PhD Candidate, School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences, University of Bradford)  Pathological Bodies: Visitor attitudes towards the display of historical potted specimens at two British medical museums.   Across Britain many educational and public institutions hold collections of historical anatomical and pathological fluid preserved potted human remains, sometimes referred to as ‘wet specimens.’ This paper will present data collected at the Surgeons Hall Museum (Edinburgh) and the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garrett (London) on the display of these types of human remains. One hundred and forty visitors were surveyed on the display of these human remains and comments from the visitor’s book were also analysed. Although these collections are still being used in teaching and research, some authors have called them ‘obsolete’ (Lee and Strkalj 2017). Potted specimen collections were the focus of the study for several reasons. They were considered t

Abstract: Babies in Bottles: Personhood, Pregnancy, and Anatomical Preparations, 1880–1900

Prof. Jessica M. Dandona Babies in Bottles: Personhood, Pregnancy, and Anatomical Preparations, 1880–1900   At the end of the 19th century, the legal status of the anatomical specimen was slowly evolving into its modern form. Not yet regulated by specific legislation, specimens were the subject of rampant commodification and were exhibited, collected, traded, bought, and sold, internationally as well as locally. No meeting of an anatomical society was complete without their exposition—and no anatomical museum complete without their display. Focusing upon the exhibition of fetal remains, this paper demonstrates how the study of anatomical specimens mediated between the well-established, if still controversial, practice of dissection and an increasing emphasis on the visual as a privileged mode of encountering and describing the biomedical body. Through a consideration of the display of fetal bodies in both professional and popular contexts, including close analysis of 19th-century colle

Abstract: Animals for education. Taxidermy display in school cabinets in Chile (twentieth century)

Dra. Carolina Valenzuela Matus, PhD Universidad Autónoma de Chile    Animals for education. Taxidermy display in school cabinets in Chile (twentieth century)  The school cabinets of Natural History were considered key to teaching Natural Sciences according to diverse educative proposal implemented during the 19th and 20th centuries in Latin America. These ideas had a great impact in educational programs in Chile. In this context, the State and the private invested a great amount of money to acquire taxidermy collections for those school cabinets, among other collections such as minerals and plants. In this paradigm, taxidermy display was essential to connects the young students with a particular vision of a subdued nature and it was a means to know an exotic natural world to which few had access, so polar bear, alligators, gorillas and lions were some of the pieces frequently bought to show this diversity. Nowadays, the ancient school cabinets of Nat

Abstract: Visual Arts and British Imperialism in India

 Shreya Sharma, independent scholar.              Visual Arts and British Imperialism in India   The British Imperialism played an important role in determining the portrayal of India and its inhabitants during the British Colonization. Portraits were a remembrance of lives and times spent in India. It was an impression of its peoples and surroundings which had to be brought back for display and for showing to members of families and friends at home in Britain. This incentive led to portrayal of the inhabitants as rural, uncivilized and illiterate. They were portrayed as a society who had no “proper” system to function which “legitimized” the British Invasion. These were portrayed through paintings and statues that travelled back to Britain for the Great exhibition amongst others. These portrayal of the inhabitants as illiterate propagated the idea that natives of India make excellent servants. These false narratives continued to influence the world. I wo

Abstract: Bodily Display in the Context of the Banquet

  Dr Anastasia Meintani, Universität Wien Bodily Display in the Context of the Banquet This paper examines the display of deformed people in the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the context of the banquet on two grounds: archaeological finds and literary sources. Though both sources have inherent problems, they are still invaluable in that they both refer to the same context. As far as the archaeological finds are concerned, legions of small-scale grotesque figurines were produced in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. A great number of them found their place in the banqueting room. Contra to all propounded theories, whose underlying common denominator is that the purpose of these images was the lampoon and degradation of the dregs of society and of the physically deformed, I argue that such statuettes carried deeply positive meanings. Turning to the living counterparts of these artefacts, we should keep in mind that besides the cases of the Roman emperors and wealthy Romans hav

Abstract: Physiognomic Disability in Literary, Statuarial, and Numismatic Depictions of Claudius

 Dr. Dan Mills, independent scholar  Physiognomic Disability in Literary, Statuarial, and Numismatic Depictions of Claudius Physiognomy, the ancient science of reading an individual’s outer appearance as a manifestation of their personality and psychological makeup, has garnered significant attention by scholars and critics, with several studies exploring physiognomy’s prevalence in the ancient world. Physiognomy was an integral part of ancient psychological theory in both the pagan world and in Judaism and early Christianity. In this essay I argue that Roman Emperor, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, has been subject to characterization based on physiognomic theories from the earliest depictions in ancient literary texts, statuary, and numismatics to Robert Graves’ twovolume fictionalized depiction and Derek Jacobi’s famous depiction in the BBC miniseries based on Graves’ books. Unlike other physiognomic characterizations of Roman emperors, however, those of Claudius have

Abstract: “The sort of man you all see me to be”: Visible Disability and Citizenship in Classical Athens

Jasmine Sahu-Hough  PhD candidate, Yale University   “The sort of man you all see me to be”: Visible Disability and Citizenship in Classical Athens   The dokimasia held annually to assess the eligibility of Athenian citizens for the so-called ‘disability pension’ would seem, in many ways, to be a classic example of the public display of disabled bodies. In requiring the recipients of the pension to submit to examination, the ancient Athenian democracy appears to prefigure modern states, which often subject those claiming disability benefits to intrusive surveillance – a process which, as Nancy Hirschmann and Beth Linker (2014) have argued, demotes disabled citizens to the status of “dependents”. Matthew Dillion (2017), however, has demonstrated that the dokimasia was simply a standard feature of democratic fiscal oversight; not only the pension beneficiaries (the adunatoi), but also magistrates who spent state money were similarly scrutinised. Given this effort to distance the process

Abstract: Pickled Tritons: The Bodily Display of (Divine) Cryptids in the Roman Empire

 Dr Ryan Denson - University of Exeter Pickled Tritons: The Bodily Display of (Divine) Cryptids in the Roman Empire   Tritons, the mermen of the antiquity, could be imagined as inhabiting the natural world and as creatures one may even encounter, similar to modern notions of cryptid sightings. Pliny the Elder, for instance, reports that a Triton was seen playing a shell-trumpet in a cave during the reign of Tiberius ( Natural History, 9.4). As with ordinary marine life, their bodies were occasionally found and preserved as physical proof of their supposed existence. Thus, Aelian, in his History of Animals, discusses a Triton corpse on display at Tanagra (13.21), describing how a local man once suffered divine vengeance for profaning its body by cutting off some of the scales. Pausanias, viewing the same corpse a century earlier, presents two starkly different versions of how it came to reside in Tanagra ( Description of Greece , 9.20). He further tells of another Triton that he pe

Abstract: [Dis]Playing Changing Bodies: Metamorphic Greco-Roman Myths as ‘Display’ of Form

  [Dis]Playing Changing Bodies: Metamorphic Greco-Roman Myths as ‘Display’ of Form Dr Tanika Koosmen University of Newcastle, Australia. The historical narrative of displayed bodies in a variety of contexts – freak shows, museum display of human remains, even as far as drag shows – finds its philosophical origins in the traditions of Greco-Roman mythological metamorphosis. To display a body is to be aware of its physicality, its metaphorical makeup, and its human/nonhuman subjectivity. In the Greek and Latin myths of transformation, exemplified by 1 st century CE Latin poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses , the display of the human and nonhuman form pre-empts the approach validated in later display traditions. When displaying a body that traverses the line between human and nonhuman, object and subject, these categorical violations must be considered: display of the metamorphosised form in literature is the early origins of these discussions, such as the case

Call for Papers

An increasing amount of attention has been paid to impairment and disability in classical antiquity in recent years. However, one aspect of the subject that has not received significant attention, despite recent developments in the study of ancient paradoxography (e.g., Kazantzidis 2019; Geus 2018) and ancient collections, collectors, and collecting (e.g., Carpino et al. 2018; Higbie 2017; Thompson 2016; Gahtan and Pegazzano 2015; Rutledge 2012), is the public display of impaired and disabled people. The same applies to extraordinary (in all senses of the word) bodies. Whether those bodies were human, animal, or cryptid, when scholars have acknowledged this phenomenon, the focus has been placed squarely on those individuals responsible for the displaying. For example, the imperial biographer Suetonius uses this as an indicator of virtue or vice in his subjects: Augustus is a good emperor for avoiding bodily display while Tiberius and Domitian are bad emperors for indulging in the pr