"Intimacy and Display in ‘Medical’ Portraits"

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Prof Ludmilla Jordanova (Professor of History and Visual Culture, University of Durham)

"Intimacy and Display in ‘Medical’ Portraits"



Centre for Health, Medicine and Society at Oxford Brookes University, 26 November 2013


This is the fifth paper of the Autumn 2013 History of Medicine Seminar Series on "The Personal and the Public: Perspectives on the Social History of Health and Medicine" funded by the Centre's Wellcome Trust Strategic Award.


NB: The images can unfortunately not be shown due to copyright restrictions


Abstract: I shall probe what we mean by "medical portraits" - the term can usefully be applied to a far wider range of images than depictions of professionals. Sometimes, images of patients display and allude to intimate experiences that are not normally made public. Yet in making a portrait, audiences are implied and anticipated, even if their precise composition cannot be predicted. The themes of intimacy and display are especially relevant to medical portraits.


Bio: Ludmilla Jordanova joined Durham University from King’s College, London (KCL) in Autumn 2013 to take up a Chair in History and Visual Culture. She held the post of Professor of Modern History at KCL from 2006 and was a member of the Centre for Humanities and Health at King’s. She has also held chairs at the Universities of Essex, York and East Anglia, and from 2003 to 2005 was Director of the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge, where she was a Fellow of Downing College. Her interests include the history of science and medicine, portraiture, gender, the practice of history and public history. Her latest book ‘The Look of the Past: visual and material evidence in historical practice’ was published by Cambridge University Press in September 2012. Other publications include: Lamarck (1984); Sexual Visions (1989); Nature Displayed (1999), History in Practice (2000, 2nd edition 2006) and Defining Features (2000). She is currently working on a book provisionally entitled ‘Traces of Life: Portraits in Britain 1850-2015’ and the third edition of ‘History in Practice’ is in preparation.


Podcasts in this Seminar Series:

Prof Alfons Labisch (Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf):

"Social History of Medicine Today: A Classic Approach in the Aftermath of the Turns." 1 October 2013  [38min06]

Dr Paul Watkins(Oxford Brookes University):

"European Veterinary Refugees 1933-1950: From Despair to Diplomas" 15 October 2013 [39min30]

Dr Pamela Michael(Honorary Senior Research Fellow, School of Social Sciences, Bangor University):

"Private Worlds and Public Asylums: A Study of two Welsh Mental Hospitals." 29 October 2013 [45min35]

Prof Ludmilla Jordanova(Professor of History and Visual Culture, University of Durham):

"Intimacy and Display in ‘Medical’ Portraits." 26 November 2013 [41min15]

Dr Roberta Bivins(Director, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick):

"‘Slummy Foreign Germs’? Politics, Medicine and Postcolonial Migration." 10 December 2013 [45min34]



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