Thursday, October 30, 2014

Diagnosis, Madness:

The Photographic Physiognomy of Hugh Welch Diamond

An Illustrated Presentation by

Dr. Sharrona Pearl, University of Pennsylvania

Lecture at 6:00 PM

Please register here for this free event.

Woman holding a Dead Bird, Surrey County Asylum

Physiognomy portrait by Hugh Welch Diamond, c.1855.

Can we see ourselves better through the lens of others? Victorian asylum doctor Hugh Welch Diamond thought so. An important innovator of early photographic techniques, Diamond used portraits of his patients for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Through photographic physiognomy, he tried to change the nature of asylum practice, using images of his patients to nurture them to health without physical restraints. We'll examine his pictures, and at the same time, we'll examine our own reactions to them, gauging not just what images of patients tell us about the past, but what they tell us about ourselves.

Dr. Sharrona Pearl is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an expert on physiognomy, the study of facial features and their relationship to character traits. Her training is in the History of Science and her interdisciplinary work spans from the visual culture to communications to women's studies. Dr. Pearl's first book was About Faces: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Harvard University Press 2010) and she is currently working on a new book Face/On: Face Transplants and the Meaning of Identity.













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