CFP: [Victorian] NAVSA 2008 Panel: Medical Imaging, Images of medicine

full name / name of organization: 
Sylvia Pamboukian
contact email:

NAVSA 2008: The Arts and Culture in Victorian Britain
Yale University, New Haven, CT, Nov. 14-16, 2008

The Victorian period witnessed a proliferation of imaging technologies,
such as photography, which altered the culture in significant ways, as
critics such as Jonathan Crary, Sander Gilman and Jennifer Green-Lewis
have noted. Photographs provided mementos, novelty, and documentary
materials in a variety of fields, and they offered a way for medical
practitioners to document cases, to teach students and to compile public
records of diseases ranging from madness to rickets. In addition, the
discovery of X-rays and the invention of a variety of scopes offered new
ways to visualize the body’s interior, displaying for the first time
disease processes such as gout and arthritis.

However, images did not merely serve as tools in the practice of
medicine. As Christopher Lawrence asserts, Victorian physicians and
surgeons carefully crafted their public image using portraits, visiting
cards and other visual forms of communication in order to transform their
once-lowly craft into one of the genteel professions. Similarly,
institutions and drug manufacturers were keenly aware of the power of the
visual in attracting new clients and establishing their own legitimacy.
Quacks had long relied on the visual in order to attract customers by
offering shows and by creating eye-catching advertisements, as William
Helfand’s commentary on quack-related ephemera asserts.

As scholars of the Victorian period, we also rely on the visual, often on
photographs which document important events, significant people and long-
disappeared landscapes and cityscapes. The availability and nature of
surviving visual records perhaps guides our research in conscious and
unconscious ways.

This panel will examine the relationship between medicine and the visual
during the nineteenth century. Papers will be solicited on the following

• Official portraits of doctors, nurses, medical students
• Images of hospitals and other institutions
• Famous medical quacks, poisoners and criminals (such as Madeline
Smith, Dr. Crippen)
• Images of medical women (Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth
• Images of medicine/ health/ illness in the colonies
• Images of the wounded/ ill and warfare
• Images of illness and the working class
• Medical devices/ drug in advertising
• Quackery and the visual
• Illness in the visual arts, including painting and photography
• The use of medical devices in Victorian medical practice
• Catalogues or other visual records of disease
• Teaching/ researching Victorian medicine/ culture using images
• Applying critical/ theoretical approaches involving the visual to
Victorian medicine

Panelists will need to join NAVSA prior to the conference.

Please send 500 word abstract and short vitae with complete contact
information by April 7, 2008, to Sylvia A. Pamboukian
Papers not selected for this panel will be
automatically considered for inclusion in the conference's Open Panels.
For further info see NAVSA conference website at

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Received on Sat Mar 15 2008 - 17:51:12 EST

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