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17:00 - 18:30 12 May 2010

A Finger's Depth: representing surgical authority in Georgian London


Fifth Floor Seminar Room | Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL (link Map)
183 Euston Road | London | NW1 2BE | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

Dr Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, The Wellcome Trust, Dr Chaplin was Director of Museums and Special Collections at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, where he managed the Hunterian Museum - an accredited public museum containing the designated collection of the surgeon John Hunter (1728-1793) - and the Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, a modern medical teaching collection. He joined the College as Senior Curator in 1998, and led the curatorial team responsible for the £3.2 million refurbishment of the Hunterian Museum between 2003 and 2005 before taking up the position of Director in 2007. His first degree is in Natural Sciences, and his PhD, completed in the Department of History at King's College London, dealt with the relationship between dissection, collecting and display in late 18th-century London.

The surgeon John Hunter's claim to diagnostic and prognostic authority was made dependent on his familiarity with the body, experience gained through the 'quintessentially impolite' art of dissection. Hunter's subsequent valorisation as the founder of 'scientific surgery' owed much to the appropriation by the newly-chartered Royal College of Surgeons in London of Hunter's museum, which included among its many thousands of preparations the pickled remains of Thomas Thurlow. Exploring the nature of the preparation as visual and material culture, this paper identifies a crucial role of anatomical museums in the construction of surgical authority between 1750 and 1830, as spaces in which the morbid body was disciplined, curated and displayed, and was thus brought under the controlling hand of the surgeon.

NB: This event will be videoed. Doors open and refreshments will be available from 4.45pm. No admittance will be permitted after 5.00pm.


The History of Medicine's Events Team
+44 (0)20 7679 8103 | hom-events@ucl.ac.uk


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