Brown Bag Lecture: Ways of Seeing: Gray’s Anatomy and the Making of a Modern Textbook

Lunchtime Lectures
Monday, April 23, 2018
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Join us for a Brown Bag Lecture by Carin Berkowitz, director of the Center for Historical Research, Science History Institute. 

How did doctors learn to see bodies? This talk attempts to answer that fundamental question by examining anatomy texts across the 19th century, comparing the myriad styles of illustration in pedagogical texts of the first half of the century to the later ubiquitousness of Gray’s Anatomy and its synthetic illustrative mode.

I will begin by looking at pedagogical practices in anatomy before the advent of the anatomical textbook and at the grand anatomical folios, including those of William Hunter, John Abernethy, and Charles Bell. Such pedagogical texts of the early 19th century were understood as a part of, rather than distinct from, the research and teaching endeavors of their writers; they were not products of consensus. They were full of what might be deemed valuable original ideas or castigated as unproven and misguided representations. The role of the anatomy folio, then, was undividedly pedagogical, scientific, career making, and artistic in ways that were deeply related. 

When anatomical atlases suddenly were altered—seemingly standardized in a smaller, composite form—and their use made routine and dispersed, most notably in England in the form of Gray’s Anatomy, it was because of changes in pedagogy and curricula, as well as in the landscape of the research sciences. The relationship of research to teaching and the makeup of the audience for a scientific education had changed as well. As a result anatomy students learned to see in a very different sort of way, one that still has bearing on how medicine is taught today.

About the Speaker

Carin Berkowitz is the director of the Center for Historical Research, Science History Institute; the author of Charles Bell and the Anatomy of Reform (University of Chicago Press, 2015); and the editor, along with Bernard Lightman, of the collection Science Museums in Transition (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017).

About the Series

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of (mostly) weekly, informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of the Institute staff and fellows and interested members of the public.