Death, Art and Anatomy Conference (CfP, University of Winchester, 3-6 June 2016)

An interdisciplinary conference exploring the intersections between death, art and anatomy, by bringing together art historians, medical historians, and practising artists. The intersection between death, art and anatomy is a largely marginalised area of study, but one this conference hopes to explore.

A major strand of the conference will be addressing a core problem in medical history, that is the growing awareness of human anatomy in Britain between the medieval and early modern periods (c.1350-1560). This will be explored through the study and analysis of extant late-medieval carved cadaver sculptures which largely pre-date Vesalian knowledge of anatomy and suggest sculptors may have had an opportunity to study and recreate, emaciated (and eviscerated) human corpses.  This raises the question of what religious and ethical considerations surrounded the creation of such pieces, and how their creators may have gained access to the emaciated dead and/or dying. As such, central to the conference will be the presentation of a newly-commissioned carved cadaver sculpture inspired by historical counterparts, with reflections by the artist, world-leading anatomical sculptor, Eleanor Crook.

Allied subjects such as medieval hospitals, visual culture and death, the inspiration of the dead in medical art, physicality and poetry, and death and medieval theology will also be explored by invited speaker.

Papers are invited that broadly address the theme of death, art and anatomy in the following areas:

  • Death and art
  • Anatomy and death
  • Anatomy and art
  • History of anatomy
  • History of death
  • Religion and anatomy
  • Religion and death
  • Medieval and early modern death beliefs and practices

Presentations should be in English, and will be allocated 20 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for discussion. Prospective participants are invited to submit abstracts of 200-250 words in Word. Proposals must include name, institutional affiliation (if relevant), a short bio (no more than 100 words) and an e-mail address. Proposals for panel discussions (organised by the participants) will be considered.

  • Deadline for receipt of abstracts is Friday 11th December 2015
  • For enquires please contact Christina Welch.
  • It is proposed that a selection of papers will be published

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