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Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930
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Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  16 reviews
"Cadavers, camera, action!" (The New York Times Book Review). From the advent of photography in the 19th and into the 20th century, medical students, often in secrecy, took photographs of themselves with the cadavers that they dissected: their first patients. Featuring 138 of these historic photographs and illuminating essays by two experts on the subject, Dissection reve
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Blast Books (first published May 1st 2009)
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 ·  104 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
“The only subjects procured for dissection are the productions of Africa, and if those characters are the only subjects of dissection, surely no person can object.”
(page 16) said by a late 18th C or early 19th C New Yorker.

This is an important collection of American medical school photography. Important, i think, because it says so much, long before and after the words, about the brief and bought off story of this profession in this country’s short life. This would be a perfect accompaniment to
Apr 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, nonfic
The most interesting part about this was the saddest part, which is the criminalization of obtaining bodies for medical colleges, making many poor people of color whose bodies were unclaimed become the unwitting donations for medical students, who then were often racists, despite evidence at their fingertips that they were dissecting a human being. as a collection of photographs, the curator/author can't go very far into this story, although he definitely is aware of it and writes about it, but ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great images. I wish there had been more of the written word.
ANIOTUS Marcus Longmuir
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
A matter-of-fact collection of images reveals much about the early use of photography as well as race, gender, and age issues as related to medical practice in the USA. The writing is concise and observant and hints at psychological and social influences on the creation of these images.
The inclusion of numerous janitorial staff in the images accentuates the social questions raised by the fact that the majority of cadavers were of African descent, and mostly stolen, especially when it is known th
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book illuminating the pictorial documentation of the American dissection in medical and other schools. I was depressed (but not surprised) to see that in the early schools African American cadavers (as a result of grave-procuring and poor houses) were the dominant cadavers. It was shocking (but not surprising) to find that the photographers who documented these scenes were often the same photographers who photographed lynching scenes. It is a reminder for the continued need for solemn ...more
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting. I had read about much of the history of cadavers/dissection in "Body of Work" and to a lesser extent in the more journalistic/popular work "Stiff: Lives of Human Cadavers," but the photographs in this book are powerful and speak volumes while inviting questions and thoughtful commentary. The introductory essay and notes accompanying the images are both thought-provoking and paradoxically imbued with respect in juxtaposition with the photographs, many of which were unsettling to ...more
Martin Perez
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The collection of photographs gathered here by Warner are truly spectacular. For an aspiring doctor, this book shows insight into the world of human body dissection, the true rite of passage for any doctor. The sections included in the book are both intriguing and surprising. I particularly enjoyed the "Dark Humor" section of the book, which includes humorous pictures of the cadavers "doing things", which is also a thought-creator in regards to the evolution of Medical Ethics and the respect giv ...more
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
(I actually feel guilty putting this towards my book challenge because it was mostly pictures. Ah, well...)

So this is an interesting book to have for fans of the macabre. As the title makes pretty clear, it is pictures of late 19th and early 20th century dissections, which was actually quite the controversial practice, given the habit of the anatomists of stealing bodies at will. While it is not a full history of the practice, it is a lovely companion book and also a great way to make everyone
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Macabre yet beautiful in a way. Born from an exhibition of dissection photos, this book shows the reader the wide range of subject matter in a short lived tradition from 1900-1950 of documenting the dissection laboratory. The text does a great job of explaining why these images should be seen more as "right of passage" documents than as students merely showcasing their black humor. It also adds a few nuances of race and gender to consider too. Definitely worth reading.
Maria Skyllas
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Maria by: Goodreads recommendation
Shelves: science, documentary
Amazing collection of photographs of medical students posing with the cadavers that they dissected. Very instructive and entertaining essays on the topic. It was interesting to learn how the medical schools provided themselves with cadavers to dissect, how racism affected this industry, and how legislation on the matter changed throughout history.
Karrie Stewart
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An amazing part of forgotten medical history is found in this book. I had no idea resurrectionists were still around into the 1900's. A must read for anyone in the medical field and not for people who get totally grossed out.
Apr 28, 2009 marked it as to-read
Rob Dhillon
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
...from the grand tradition...
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very macabre. Not a great lunchtime read, but fascinating. Highly recommend.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Really fascinating photos, and a little disturbing. An interesting look at a part of medical history.
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