Lectures

October 25th 6:00 pm Anton and Rose Zverina Lecture 2018
Hidden in plain view: Discovering the work of a 16th-century anatomist hidden in the historiated initials of Andreas Vesalius—Surprising images of the healing, stealing, dissecting, and vivisecting of bodies. Presented by Dr. Douglas J. Lanska 

De humani corporis fabrica of 1543, by the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius, threw Renaissance anatomy into a tumultuous chaos, and ultimately overturned Galenic doctrines that had survived from the 2nd century—over 1300 years! The sublime anatomical figures of Fabrica are today widely recognized and admired. But few among us have given much notice to the historiated initials, the large blocked letters of the alphabet featured at the beginning of important sections and paragraphs. In a very real way, they are simply hiding in plain sight. But Dr. Lanska discovered that they have a tale to tell and he will reveal the reward of giving them closer scrutiny. At first glance, the historiated initials seem rather cartoonish in comparison to the graceful anatomical figures. Indeed, some are plainly vulgar and convey Vesalius’ macabre humor. But they also vividly portray the sordid details of the anatomist’s work, the methods Vesalius used to gain the knowledge presented in the anatomical plates and text. Plan to join us for this fascinating historical discovery of the medical past.

Dr. Lanska is Professor of Philosophy and the History of Medicine at the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University in Russia.  He has been Professor of Neurology at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Kentucky, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Chief of Staff and Associate Chief of Staff for Education at the Tomah VA Medical Center.

Please RSVP by October 22 online: RSVP Link 

Temporary Exhibit

June 7- November 1, 2018. Dissection of the brain in woodcut: A visual exploration of Renaissance anatomy from Gersdorff to Vesalius

How do we see? And how does what we see influence meaning? We welcome you to a unique exhibit that presents early anatomies of the brain, our still-mysterious seat of consciousness. The exhibit presents woodcut anatomies from the early 1500s to the groundbreaking work of Andreas Vesalius, father of anatomy, in editions of 1543 and 1555, to later texts that take concepts of brain and mind into the future. But the exhibit also asks the viewer to think about how image and understanding work together, and to practice their own ways of “seeing.”

Anatomists and artists worked together to create the amazing woodcuts presented here, but these collaboration were also exercises in interpretation. Try as we might to render exactly what we see, what we see is deeply affected by our own understanding, our prejudices, our preconceived notions. By creating anatomies that brought new anatomical features to light, anatomists and artists help to create new meanings. Once merely a jelly of gray matter, the brain begins to take shape in new ways, to have new and more important place in our understanding. Today, we consider the brain to be the locus of the mind, the self, us. We have only arrived there by seeing the brain more clearly, and through constantly re-evaluating what we see. We invite you, the viewer, to take a similar journey. Each panel will ask you to ponder questions about the visual representation. Join us on a voyage of discovery through woodcut and paint to a better understanding of the brain.