NYAM | Festival of Medical History and Arts | October 5, 2013


NYAM's Center for History

Description of Events



11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, 3:30 PM

Introduction to the Rare Book Collections & the Gladys Brooks Book and Paper Conservation Lab — Meet in First Floor Lobby

/Go on a guided tour of the Romanesque Revival structure, built in 1925–1926. Get an introduction to our collections with Arlene Shaner, Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections, and Rebecca Pou, Archivist, including the chance to see some of our rare medical books up close. Get a behind-the-scenes tour of our book and paper conservation laboratory with lab head and conservator Erin Albritton, senior conservator Anne Hillam, and conservator Christina Amato. Every hour on the half hour, starting at 11:30; meet in the First Floor Lobby.


Michael Benson


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Hosack Hall

A Cosmic/Neuronal Slapdown

Neuroscientist Carl Schoonover (Portraits of the Mind) pits his laptop full of awe-inspiring electron-microscopic images of the brain against that of filmmaker/editor Michael Benson (Beyond, Far Out and Planetfall), full as it is of stunning super-telescopic images of the solar system and the galaxies. (With musical accompaniment: the Dueling Banjos theme from Deliverance.)



/Michael Benson is a widely published writer (The Atlantic, The New Yorker, etc.) award-winning film-maker (the 1995 documentary on the cultural and artistic backdrop to the fall of Yugoslavia, Predictions of Fire) and photographer/image processor. His book compiling and elucidating planetary and galactic marvels include Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes (2003), Far Out: A Space-Time Chronicle (2009) and last year’s Planetfall. His most recent film is a feature-length global, and indeed galactic, road movie, entitled More Places Forever. And he is currently at work on a book of electron-microscopic images.




Elizabeth L. Bradley, PhD


11:30 AM - 12:00 PM, Room 21

The Pygmy and the Protoplasm: Eugenics Goes to the [Human] Zoo

The World's Fairs that captivated the imagination of turn-of-the-century America were notable not only for their significant inventions (the telephone, the Ferris Wheel, cotton candy), but for their lavish anthropological exhibitions, which included large ethnographic enclosures featuring “exotic” natives from around the globe, living in recreated habitats and performing traditional acts for the benefit of thousands of curious, mostly Anglo-Saxon spectators. These “human zoos”, descendants of the villages negres of Victorian colonial expositions, offered ethnographers a rare opportunity to observe, measure, and analyze other races—and their conclusions lent inspiration and encouragement to practitioners of the new discipline of eugenics, which soon saw field researchers traveling to the freak shows at Coney Island, that ne plus ultra of human zoos.



/Elizabeth L. Bradley, PhD is a Brooklyn-based historian whose interests include the human archaeology of New York City as well as the intersections of literature, science, and American popular culture. Her books include Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York (Rutgers University Press, 2009) and New York (forthcoming from Reaktion Books). Dr. Bradley is also the editor of the Penguin Classics edition of Washington Irving's A History of New York. She has contributed articles on New York's singular features to numerous anthologies, as well as to publications such as Edible Brooklyn, Bookforum, and The New York Times. Dr. Bradley is currently at work on a history of the impact of the eugenics movement on American arts and letters.




Marie Dauenheimer MA, CMI, FAMI


2:30 PM - 3:00 PM, Room 21

18th and 19th Century Anatomical Models in European Collections

This illustrated presentation will examine the art and history of the wax anatomical models of the “Museo Zoologico La Specola” in Florence, Italy. Over 2,000 wax models of human anatomy were created by the museum's “Wax Modeling Workshop” from the mid 18th to early 19th century, and the products of their labor are considered by many to be the finest anatomical waxworks in the world.

This presentation will address how and why these anatomical masterpieces were created, the artists and anatomists who created them, and the place of these collections in the history of anatomical art. The wax anatomical models of Bologna, which pre-date those of “La Specola,” and the dissectible papier-mâché anatomical models by Dr. Auzoux will also be discussed.


4:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Registration Required

Carbon Dust Drawing Workshop, Featuring Real Anatomical Specimens

Carbon dust is a technique perfected by medical artist Max Brodel, at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in the late 19th century. This technique–which, until the digital age, was an essential component of medical illustration education–allows the artist to create luminous, textural, three-dimensional drawings by layering carbon dust on prepared paper.

Today’s one day intensive workshop will teach students the use of this all but forgotten medium, and guide each student in the creation of a finished work based on real anatomical specimens supplied by the instructor. The workshop will also include a historical lecture placing carbon dust drawings in the context of the history of anatomical and medical art. The instructor will provide all materials necessary for this workshop, and will also share finished carbon dust drawings.



/Marie Dauenheimer, MA, CMI, FAMI is a Board Certified Medical Illustrator working in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. She creates medical illustrations and animations for interactive media, websites, apps and publications. Marie received her master’s degree in medical and biological illustrations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she was introduced to the carbon dust technique.

In addition to maintaining a success medical illustration business Marie organizes educational travel opportunities through the Vesalius Trust. These “Art and Anatomy Tours” to Europe offer the chance to study the vast history of art and anatomy by visiting dissecting theatres, anatomy museums, anatomical wax collections and art collections.




Mark Dery


12:30 - 1:00 PM, Room 21

Gray Matter: The Obscure Pleasures of Medical Libraries

Medical libraries such as the New York Academy of Medicine's offer ready access to a motherlode of “invisible literature,” the SF novelist J.G. Ballard’s term for medical textbooks, scientific journals, technical manuals, and other gray matter. Although it comprises a veritable galaxy in the universe of print media, invisible literature is nowhere to be found in general-interest bookstores, and is never reviewed in mainstream book pages for the simple fact that no one, not even the specialists who are its intended audience, thinks of this stuff as literature in the literary sense of the word. But what if we did?



/Mark Dery is a cultural critic. His latest book is the essay collection I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams. He is at work, for Little, Brown, on a biography of the author, illustrator, and legendary eccentric Edward Gorey.




Colin Dickey


5:30 PM - 6:00 PM, Room 21

Cranioklepty: A Few Thefts of Some Famous Skulls

Between 1790 and 1840, the skulls (or parts of thereof) of famous musicians, artists, and writers including Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and Goya were stolen by a strange mix of phrenologists and other collectors; Dickey will discuss these stories and the motivations behind these thefts.



/Colin Dickey is the author of Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius, and Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith. He is a regular contributor to Lapham's Quarterly and The LA Review of Books.



Samuel Strong Dunlap, PhD


11:00 AM - 2:00 PM, Registration Required

Dissection & Drawing Workshop with Real Anatomical Specimens

Modern scientific dissection and illustrations commenced in the Renaissance. Basic anatomical dissection, illustration and knowledge are still fundamental in many fields such as evolutionary biology, surgery, quality medical schools, and forensic science.

In today’s workshop, we will dissect and draw a Didelphis virginiana–the North American opossum–a “living fossil” whose anatomy has remained virtually unchanged over the past 70 million years; this creature is considered to be a good model for a basal–i.e. early or original–mammal. Many comparative skeletal materials will be available for examination and illustration, and additional specimens may also be available. Gloves, scalpels and probes will be provided. Marie Dauenheimer, medical illustrator (and instructor of this afternoon’s carbon dust workshop), will assist with this workshop.


3:00 PM - 3:30 PM, Room 21

Peale's Museum or Peale's Museum in Philadelphia

From the beginning, Charles Willson Peale's museum expressed a clear message of collection presentation arranged along the lines of the latest available scientific principles. Peale and his talented progeny were some of the last of the 18th century naturalists, when early professional scientists were just emerging. The very progressive educational and scientific approach of the Peales includes many interesting links with early evolutionist ideas and modern medicine.



/Dr. Dunlap’s interest in Charles Willson Peale stems from his frequent use of museum collections in his research as well as his descendent relationship through Peale’s eldest son, Raphaelle. Dr. Dunlap received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. His areas of interest include early human evolution, musculoskeletal anatomy of primates, forensics and Darwin studies. He currently teaches anthropology at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. Following up on a 3 and 1/2 year postdoc in the Anatomy Department of Howard University College of Medicine with Dr. Aziz, Dr. Dunlap has recently returned to anatomical research, dissecting human, ape, monkey and opossum limbs. He is also engaged in an analysis of the New York school artist Mark Rothko’s signature work. His wife, Marie Dauenheimer joins him in this study which will provide a scientific anthropological explanation for the universal sublime/spiritual experience Rothko sought.




Joanna Ebenstein


All day, Hosack Hall

Curator and Interlocutor



/Joanna Ebenstein is artist and independent scholar. She runs the Morbid Anatomy Blog and Morbid Anatomy Library, which makes available her collection of books, artifacts and curiosities relating to medical museums and the history of anatomy in Brooklyn, New York. She also produces the Morbid Anatomy event series, with workshops, field trips, lectures, syposia and spectacles devoted to the anatomical and the arcane for audiences in New York, Los Angeles, London and beyond. She is the co-author of Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy (Constable and Robinson, 2013) and co-editor of the upcoming Morbid Anatomy Anthology. She is currently acting as researcher for The Wellcome Collection in London.


Morbid Anatomy Blog | Walter Potter Taxidermy | Morbid Anatomy Anthology


Jane Gauntlett


3:15 PM - 4:00 PM, Hosack Hall

What it Feels Like to Have an Epileptic Fit

One day in 2005, Jane Gauntlett, a 25 year old trainee theater producer from North London was brutally attacked while bicycling in broad daylight, robbed, and left for dead, with massive head injuries, in the gutter. She survived, recovered (albeit plagued by several grand mal seizures a week) and went on to develop a highly imaginative way of conveying the actual felt experience of such seizures (and other such medical episodes) to audiences throughout the world.



/Jane Gauntlett has served as a performer, writer and producer for such esteemed companies and UK venues as Complicite, Barbican, Shunt, Battersea Arts Centre, Edinburgh Fringe and the National Theatre from her base in London. In 2009, she co-founded Sublime & Ridiculous, a company born out of a desire to communicate the incommunicable by way of inspired storytelling and innovative technology, allowing participants to be led astray by their own senses. In 2011, she launched In My Shoes as a project to help people in extreme, unique and difficult situations communicate their experiences to wider society through art and first-person documentary, a project that has seen her working with doctors, scientists, transgender people, people with mental health issues, human rights activists, carers and paramedics across the world.




Bill Hayes


12:00 PM - 1:00 PM, Room 21

A Pair of Anatomy Lessons

Art writer and curator Lawrence Weschler (Vermeer in Bosnia) discourses on Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson and then engages essayist Bill Hayes in a conversation about the legendary anatomist Henry Gray (the subject of his book Gray’s Anatomy).



/Bill Hayes, a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction (2013-14), is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the author of three books: Sleep Demons: An Insomniac’s Memoir; Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood; and The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy. He is currently at work on a new book, to be published by Bloomsbury: Sweat: A History of Exercise.




Amy Herzog


2:00 PM - 2:30 PM, Room 21

Momento Mori: Reflections on Death and the Art of the Tableau

This talk surveys a spectrum of artistic and museological dioramas, waxworks, and post-mortem photographic practices, and the hermetic, frozen worlds each offer to the viewer. There is something profoundly fetishistic, and mildly necrophilic, at the heart of the diorama, an apparent desire to encapsulate and reanimate those items on display. This paradoxical tension between preservation and regeneration seems germane to the 19th-century imaginary in general, the moment at which many of the visual practices I will discuss came into being. And while the diorama in particular is driven by a certain pedagogical directive, my talk will suggest that their lessons are more ambiguous than their creators likely imagined, and offer uncanny insights into our contemporary condition.



/Amy Herzog is Coordinator of the Film Studies Program at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she is on the faculties of Music, Theatre, and Women’s Studies, and Associate Professor of Media Studies at Queens College. She is the author of Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film (Minnesota, 2010), and co-editor, with Carol Vernallis and John Richardson, of The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media (Oxford University Press, 2013). She has published work on philosophy, film, popular music, pornography, architecture, rats, and sideshow attractions.


Amy Herzog


Michael Johns, PhD


6:00 PM - 6:30 PM, Room 21

Experimenting with Death: An Introduction to the Terror Management Theory

Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker suggested that the capacity to understand one’s mortality and the ways humans deal with this awareness could explain behaviors ranging from genocide to altruism. Terror Management Theory (TMT) was developed based on Becker’s work and provides a scientific framework for testing his idea about death as a core motivator of human behavior. Over the last 25 years researchers have conducted hundreds of studies to test hypotheses derived from TMT. These studies have examined how awareness of mortality influences behaviors ranging from aggression and stereotyping to creativity and sexuality. This lecture will introduce the theory and discuss experiments that have been conducted to test its tenets.



/Michael Johns is a social psychologist currently residing in New York City. He has published over a dozen research articles and book chapters on a variety of topics, including Terror Management Theory. Before moving to NYC, Dr. Johns was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming.


Riva Lehrer


5:30 PM - 6:30 PM, Hosack Hall

Jarred: Self Portrait in Formaldehyde

Chicago artist Riva Lehrer was born with spina bifida (a split spine) in 1958. Being visibly different has meant that she has often confronted descriptions of her body as stunted, twisted or deformed. These complicated encounters have led her to think about the human body, both in her practice as a portraitist, and as a highly prized lecturer in anatomy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lehrer’s art explores definitions and truthful representations of the experience of disability, the divide between inner and outer life, the mystery of survival and triumph of the creative mind. Her talk will begin with the unsettling experience last year of coming upon a fetal specimen very like herself on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.



/Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer, and activist whose work focuses on socially challenged bodies such as her own (she was born in 1958 with spina bifida). Her portraits have been featured in such venues as the United Nations, the Chicago Cultural Center, and both the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Her writing and visual art are included in the new anthology Sex and Disability (Duke University Press), and she has been the subject of several documentaries, including The Paper Mirror, by Charissa King-O’Brien (with graphic novelist Alison Bechdel), and Self Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer by David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches drawing and anatomy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a visiting artist in medical humanities at Northwestern University. 




Dániel Margócsy


12:00 PM - 12:30 PM, Room 21

The Anatomy of the Corpse: Ruysch, Descartes and the Problem of Wax

This talk surveys early modern efforts to correctly visualize the human body. It brings into conversation Descartes' philosophical musings on the nature of representation with the vibrant anatomical culture of the contemporary Dutch Republic, where the French philosopher resided for much of his adult life. For example, the physician Frederik Ruysch, famous for his macabre tableaus, worked throughout his life to produce a method of representation that was immune to Cartesian skepticism over reliability of images. The talk examines in detail Ruysch's working methods with engraved illustrations and anatomical preparations, and explains why Ruysch hoped that these imaging techniques might offer a faithful representation of human life.


2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, Hosack Hall

The Royal Treatment

Starting out from a consideration of the exquisitely agonizing last hours of the French King Louis XIII (as evoked, at exquisite length, by Roberto Rossellini in his film The Taking of Power of Louis XIV), Hunter College historian Daniel Margocsy discusses what once passed for the height of medical care (bloodletting, stool analysis, leeches and the like) and compares it with our current practices.



/Dániel Margócsy is assistant professor of early modern European history at Hunter College - CUNY. He was the 2012-3 Birkelund fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the New York Public Library. A historian of science by training, he has published articles on the development of taxonomy, the visual culture of early modern anatomy, and the aesthetics of curiosities. He has co-edited “States of Secrecy,” a special issue of the British Journal for the History of Science, and his forthcoming book, Commercial Visions: Science, Trade and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age, will appear with the University of Chicago Press in 2014.


Dániel Margócsy


Chris Muller


3:30 PM - 6:30 PM, Registration Required

Comparative Anatomy: Animals & the Fundamentals of Drawing Weekend Workshop

Using animal and human anatomy as a jumping off point, this course will look at the ground-level, first principles of drawing as representation. Focusing mainly on mammal anatomy, we’ll look at the basic shared forms between humans and other animals, how these forms dictate movement, and how to express those forms.

Saturday’s class will be held at Observatory, where with the aid of several skeletons we’ll look at basic structures, sprinkling our exploration with odd facts and observations. Messy investigatory drawings will ensue.



/Chris Muller is an artist and exhibit designer based in Brooklyn. He has designed exhibits for the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum for African Art, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and many others. He has designed sets for Laurie Anderson, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, the Atlantic Theater Company, and others. He teaches drawing and digital painting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.


Salvador Olguín


11:00 AM - 11:30 AM, Room 21

An 18th Century Mexican Biography of Death

La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte (The Astounding Life of Death) is a rare, fantastically illustrated 18th century Mexican book in which author Joaquin Bolaños recounts, in an exuberant baroque style, the many adventures of Death, from her humble beginnings in the Garden of Eden, where she is said to have been born from Adam’s Sin and Eve’s Guilt, to her dramatic destruction on Judgment Day. The protagonist of the story is referred to as “The Empress of the Sepulchers,” and her deeds are recounted in a series of disjointed chapters. Banned by the Inquisition, the book and the engravings that illustrate it had a discernible influence on Mexico’s popular representations of death. This lecture will discuss this influential book, focusing on cultural attitudes towards death in Mexico from pre-Columbian times to the present day, touching on subjects such as Day of the Dead, rural Mexican post-mortem photography of the 1940s and '50s, and the contemporary worshiping of Santa Muerte.



/Salvador Olguín was born in Monterrey, Mexico and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. He has a Masters degree in Humanities and Social Thought from NYU. Work by Olguín focusing on the role of postmortem photography in contemporary Mexican culture has recently been published in journals and book chapters in New York and Spain.




Lado Pochkhua



/Lado Pochkhua was born in Sukhumi, Georgia in 1970. He received his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Tbilisi State Art Academy in Georgia in 2001. He currently divides his time between New York and Tbilisi, Georgia.




Oliver Sacks, MD


4:00 PM - 5:30 PM, Hosack Hall

The Guardian Spirits Behind Awakenings

Following the screening of a new 15 minute documentary which filmmaker Bill Morrison culled from a box of over five hours of archival super-8 reels which Sacks himself shot at the time of the uncanny awakening of his wardful of postencephalytically entranced patients back in 1969 (set to music by Philip Glass), Oliver Sacks himself will discuss those days with curator Weschler, focusing in particular on the benign influence of two powerful mentors who held sway over his life during that period, the Soviet neuropsychologist A.R. Luria and the English poet W.H. Auden.



/London-born (1933) and New York-based, is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, and a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine. He is best known for his collections of neurological case histories, including The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1985); Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007); The Mind’s Eye (2010); and his latest, Hallucinations (2013). Awakenings (1973), his book about a group of patients who had survived the great encephalitis lethargica epidemic of the early twentieth century, inspired the 1990 Academy Award-nominated feature film starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. The New York Times has referred to him as “the poet laureate of medicine.”




Mike Sappol


1:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Main Reading Room

Combat Fatigue Irritability (1945): A “lost” Gene Kelly movie on PTSD 0

Historian Mike Sappol of the National Library of Medicine introduces Combat Fatigue Irritability, a 1945 wartime naval training film starring Gene Kelly. Kelly plays the role of Seaman Bob Lucas, whose ship was sunk in battle. Although Lucas survives, he suffers from what now might be termed “post-traumatic stress disorder.” With psychiatric help, Lucas moves from illness to wellness. Although Kelly was proud of his performance, few people have seen it outside of its wartime context. Mike Sappol will provide expert commentary on the development and use of film in both medicine and war, and the changing medical understanding of wartime psychological trauma.


3:30 PM - 4:00 PM, Room 21

Radiant modernity: An iconography of rays, beams, and waves, 1920-1960

In this illustrated talk Michael Sappol takes viewers on a tour of a powerful mid-20th-century cultural imaginary, focusing on published illustrations in Fritz Kahn’s popular medical publications: the radiant modernity of rays, beams and waves. Between 1920 and 1960, as the technologies of industrial modernity proliferated, the public was gripped by a technomania for rays, beams and waves. Electromagnetism, radioactivity, radio waves, x-rays, ultra-violet rays, infra-red rays, cosmic rays, gamma rays, brain waves—and all sorts of exotic, miraculous and terrible rays soon to be discovered or invented—received effulgent representation in illustrated science-fiction, movies, comic books and other entertainments.


Rays, beams and waves served as appealing, open-ended metaphors for the dynamism of modernity. In their illustrations, Kahn’s artists made visible the hidden physical forces that surged in, through, and on the surfaces of, our bodies — and also made visible, audible, or palpable the invisible social, political, technological and economic forces that profoundly touched everyone but were hard to narrate or see. In popular science, advertising, comic books and science fiction, these were not only cause for anxiety (notwithstanding “death rays”) but also enchantment: that we live in a world of rays — according to Fritz Kahn, “one of the greatest discoveries of our times” — makes everyday life something like the world we “dream about”: “radiant”!



/Michael Sappol is a historian in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health), Bethesda, MD. His scholarly work focuses on the body, the history of anatomy, the history of death, the history of medical illustration and display, and the history of medical film. He is the author of A Traffic of Dead Bodies (2002) and Dream Anatomy (2006), and editor of Hidden Treasure (Blast Books, 2012). His current book project, almost complete, is How to Get Modern with Scientific Illustration. He currently lives in Washington, DC.




Sigrid Sarda


12:00 PM - 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM, Main Reading Room

Medical Wax Moulage Demonstration

Moulage is the art of applying mock injuries for training purposes.  Sigrid Sarda will show how a medical wax moulage is created.  A model with some minor skin condition will have the affected area cast, and then the cast will be de-molded. In the interests of time, an already completed wax moulage will be shown, and the creative process explained in detail, with slides of each step.  Both present and past techniques will be explained, as well as the use of moulage in medical training.



/Sigrid Sarda constructs life-size human figures made of wax incorporating human remains in the tradition of the doll as a magical object. The figures become talismans, reliquaries housing human bones. Each tableaux, in tradition of the diorama, is peppered with the grotesque, comic and at times empathetic life-size characters along with backdrops of popular cultural and biblical icons, engaging in what our culture deems acceptable by today's standards. Borrowing from fables, allegories and fairytales Sarda creates nightmarish vignettes of her own personal malaise blurring the lines of the assumption of the hero/villain and the universal concepts of archetypical imagery. With her characteristic dark humor, Sarda creates a world of flipped morality and a decaying system of values run amok.


www.sigridsarda.com | sigridsarda.blogspot.com


Carl Schoonover


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Hosack Hall

A Cosmic/Neuronal Slapdown

Neuroscientist Carl Schoonover (Portraits of the Mind) pits his laptop full of awe-inspiring electron-microscopic images of the brain against that of filmmaker/editor Michael Benson (Beyond, Far Out and Planetfall), full as it is of stunning super-telescopic images of the solar system and the galaxies. (With musical accompaniment: the Dueling Banjos theme from Deliverance.)


1:00 PM - 1:30 PM, Room 21

Premodern Neuroscience: Antiquity to Cajal

Our understanding of the brain depends in large part on the tools that were invented to look at it. Confronted with an undifferentiated mass of gray, students of the nervous system have had to get clever and probe it in ingenious ways. This talk will present a whirlwind survey beginning with the earliest attempts to interact with this extraordinarily complex organ, up to the seminal technical innovations in the late 19th century that launched the modern field of neuroscience.



/Carl Schoonover is a postdoctoral fellow in the Axel laboratory at Columbia University, where he studies the neural circuitry of instinctual fear behaviors. He is the author of Portraits of the Mind, and has written for The New York Times, Le Figaro, and Scientific American, and cofounded NeuWrite, a collaborative working group for scientists, writers, and those in between. Schoonover’s radio program on WKCR 89.9FM, focuses on opera, classical music, and their relationship to the brain.




Daniel K. Smith


6:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Anthropodermic Bibliopegy: Books Bound in Human Skin and the Stories Behind Them

Due to their macabre nature, “anthropodermic bibliopegy”—or books bound in human skin—have been treated as curios and overlooked as objects of serious study. Most were created as examples or warnings, but some specific titles were sought out to be rebound in human leather by faddish collectors. Daniel K. Smith has examined, photographed and researched examples at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, The Grolier Club and The John Hay Library at Brown University, and found fascinating histories that illuminate worlds as diverse as grave-robbing, the King of Belgium, New England highwaymen, and 19th century Parisian aristocracy.



/Daniel K. Smith is a collector, bookbinder, and the proprietor of Strike Three Press, which publishes limited edition books. Dedicated to maintaining traditional hand binding and printing methods, Strike Three Press publishes the work of American illustrators. The most recent effort is Brooklyn's Rescued Bestiary by Virginia Cahill with engravings by David Klein. Letterpress printed and hand-bound in an edition of 64 copies, it was reviewed in the Communication Arts Illustration Annual 52 and is part of the permanent collection of Ringling Bros Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. Strike Three Press books are in the permanent collections of Haverford College, Schromberg Center of The New York Public Library, and Denver University.




Lawrence Weschler


All day, Hosack Hall

Curator and Interlocutor

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM, Hosack Hall

A Pair of Anatomy Lessons

Art writer and curator Lawrence Weschler (Vermeer in Bosnia) discourses on Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson and then engages essayist Bill Hayes in a conversation about the legendary anatomist Henry Gray (the subject of his book Gray’s Anatomy).



/Lawrence Weschler, curator and interlocutor at today’s event, was for more than twenty years (1981–2001) a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. From 2001 through this past September he was the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU (and for much of that time, concurrently, the artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival). His more than fifteen books include Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees (a biography of artist Robert Irwin), Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (on the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA), and most recently Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative. (portrait: Riva Lehrer, Lawrence Weschler: PT Barnum of the Mind, 2008) 




Kriota Willberg


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, Main Reading Room

Musculoskeletal Anatomy on the Body of a Live Model - CANCELED

Kriota Willberg draws musculoskeletal anatomy on the body of a live model. Willberg discusses anatomy, describes the projected artwork, and chats with curious audience members, as she draws on the model who also serves as her living canvas. Willberg’s intricate and colorful anatomical representations shift and deform with the model’s body as he moves and shifts position. PowerPoint projections present examples of contemporary and historic artistic and scientific representations of the human body and anatomy.



/Kriota Willberg has an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. Through drawing, writing, performance, and needlework she explores the intersection of body sciences with creative practice. She has taught anatomy to artists working in a variety of media, as well as pathology and massage technique. Willberg has studied personal training and exercise, and is a licensed massage therapist. Her blog, thecinematologist.blogspot.com examines medical themes through the lens of Hollywood films. Willberg’s projects have received support from The American Antiquarian Society, the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Dixon Place Theater, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Franklin Furnace, and others. She currently works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a massage therapist.