NLM Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A
The next lecture is “The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate: Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 19th- and 20th-Century Anatomy,” by Michael Sappol, PhD, Historian, NLM History of Medicine Division. This is a story about “topographical anatomy”—a tradition of slicing and sawing rather than cutting and carving—and its procedures for converting bodies from three dimensions to two dimensions and back again. In topographical cross-section anatomy, the frozen or mummified body is cut into successive layers that are then transcribed and reproduced as pages of a book or a sequence of prints or slides (sometimes with the original slices preserved as a sequence of specimens for the anatomical museum). The topographical method influenced, and was in turn influenced by, flap anatomy (the technique of cutting out printed anatomical parts on paper or cardboard and assembling the parts into a layered representation of the human body). In the 20th century, medical illustrators and publishers developed a new technique of three-dimensional anatomical layering: the anatomical transparency—an epistemological/heuristic device which in the postmodern era has come to enchant artists as well as anatomists. This talk features photographs of materials in the NLM collection by artist Mark Kessell.