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Explorations in the Medical Humanities: The Whiteness of Bones

Public Humanities, Explorations in the Medical Humanities

dateSeptember 11, 2017 timeMonday, 6:00pm–7:30pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Arden Hegele
  • Carmel Raz
  • Heidi Hausse
  • Lan Li

Full title: The Whiteness of Bones: the Emergence of the Human Skeleton as a Commodity, 1500-1800

The human skeleton became an object—scientific, natural, artistic, and artisanal—in the period between the late 15th century and the late 18th century. While retaining its symbolic value, in this period the skeleton became essential both to anatomists and to artists as the bedrock of the human form. As a valued commodity, skeletons were bought and sold, and entered public and private collections. Anatomical manuals included instructions on their crafting. This talk will examine who owned skeletons, who used them, and who made them, and the fact that their origins as dead humans remained curiously unexpressed.