Malleable Anatomies

Malleable Anatomies

Lucia Dacome

This project investigated the historical significance of anatomical modeling and bodily display. In particular, it considered the emergence, in the mid-eighteenth century, of a "mania" for anatomical displays and examined the sociocultural setting in which anatomical modeling was developed as a trustworthy and authoritative medium of medical knowledge. One of Lucia Dacome's aims was to shed light on the role of artifacts and visual displays in the creation and communication of anatomical knowledge. Another aim was to reconstruct how a local practice like wax-modeling was transformed into a medium for substantiating universal views of the body. In order to investigate the stratification of meanings that was inscribed in mid-eighteenth-century anatomical artefacts, this project situated anatomical modelling in the context of diversified world of visual and material practices that characterized the representation and display of the body. In a related manner, it drew attention to the artisanal dimension of eighteenth-century anatomical practice and the role of women as makers and users of anatomical models. Moreover, it reconstructed how anatomical modeling was shaped within networks of relations and agencies that involved artifacts, makers, patrons, buyers, collectors, viewers, and users alike, and extended well beyond the medical world.