Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Update on Facebook postings of dissection images -- and April 7 Dissection event at Harvard Medical School

Offending dissection room image, pixilated to obscure the cadaver.

In the Feb 1 post on the Dittrick blog I noted an incident in which a student had posted an image of a classmate posing with their cadaver in the dissection lab. Apparently this whole issue has really gotten some currency, for I heard from my boss, Cyrus Taylor (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at CWRU), that it had been a topic of discussion by a visiting faculty member. Cyrus wrote:

Howard Schneider, Dean of the School of Journalism at SUNY Stony Brook, spoke here [at Case] last week describing his course on "news literacy." One of the examples he mentioned as an example of the changing influence of electronic media featured a medical school student who took a photo of a fellow student with a cadaver and posted it on facebook.

Well, actions have consequences, and in this case, one student, a resident at the Stony Brook University Medical Center, was instructed to remove the offending image from her Facebook page, as reported in Newsday.com.

Just shows how enduring these images are.

On a related front, John Warner and I will be presenting the Dissection book and images at Harvard Medical School on April 7. I’m heading there a day early to mount a display of images (digital copies of the originals at the Dittrick) at the Center for the History of Medicine, with the help of Warren Anatomical Museum curator Dominic Hall. (Both the Center and the Warren are located in the Countway Library, on the Longwood campus of Harvard Medical School). The exhibition will be up at least a couple of months. I’ll be making some comments, entitled Re-discovering a lost genre of medical portraiture : the genesis of Dissection, and John Warner will present Posing with the Cadaver: Human Dissection, Photography, and the Image of Modern Medicine at the Turn of the 20th Century. For details visit the Center’s website events page.

For those unfamiliar with the Warren collections, visit the Smithsonian online for Jan 2010, which focused upon their collections. Most notable item at the Warren is,
a la Ripley's Believe-it-or-not, the Phineas Gage skull, which Dominic Hall spoke about recently on NPR.

Jim Edmonson

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