Photography and the Making of Modern Medicine in France (1860-1914)

I am thrilled to announce that I have been awarded a British Academy/ Leverhulme Small Grant for my project “Photography and the Making of Modern Medicine in France (1860-1914)” (Ref: SRG18R1\181193)

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Outdoors photographic laboratory, La Salpêtrière. Cinémathèque.

The purpose of this BA Small Grant is to support the archive research and dissemination of results for my monograph Photography and the Making of Modern Medicine in France (1860-1914). This book will explore the emergence and development of medical photography in France between 1860 and 1914. The second half of the long nineteenth century was a period of great change in France, which affected its social and political life as well as its sciences. The turn to experimental medicine led by Claude Bernard, the increasing specialisation of doctors in different branches of the medical sciences and the incorporation of new technological instruments turned this period into a key moment in the history of medicine. This book takes an innovative approach to these processes, retelling important episodes such as the birth of experimental psychology and the development of specialised medical journals from a photographic point of view. By examining images as well as photographic materials and discourses, this book situates photography at the centre of medical sciences. In particular, it argues that photographic practices contributed to the making of medical knowledge, the shaping of medical specialisms and the communication of scientific ideas. Unique in its scope and approach, this book demonstrates that photography played a fundamental role in the development of the medical field in France.

This project aims to make a critical intervention in medical history and medical humanities, offering new directions in the field. While most of the books and articles on medical photography tend to focus on singular institutions or collections of photographs, this project will be the first to carry out a systematic analysis of medical photographic practices in France, exploring the uses of photography in institutions (La Salpêtrière, Collège de France, Bicêtre, Saint Anne, Saint-Louis, Villejuif and Hôtel Dieu, among others), medical specialisms (mainly pathology, neurology, psychology, psychiatry, physiology and anatomy) and publications (manuscripts, textbooks and journals).

Aims

  1. To demonstrate the fundamental role that photography played in the shaping of the medical field in France between 1860 and 1914 through the analysis of its uses in institutions, medical specialisms and publications.
  2. To provide a model of analysis of photographic sources related to the history of medicine that suits the particular characteristics of medical records and is applicable to other medical corpuses.

I will update this blog with progress on this research. This is exciting!

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