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Dissection on Display: Cadavers, Anatomists, and Public Spectacle
Since Herophilus, the “father of anatomy,” performed the first public human dissection in the third century BCE, audiences have been spellbound by the cutting apart of cadavers.
Dissection on Display: Cadavers, Anatomists, and Public Spectacle by Christine Quigley traces the past and present of public dissection, from Herophilus’s first cuts to the revival of anatomy as entertainment through spectacles like Gunther von Hagen’s Body Worlds, including the attacks on anatomy in the Middle Ages, the influence of Renaissance anatomist Andreas Vesalius, the procurement of bodies through execution and body snatchers, and the withdrawal of dissectors behind medical school doors in the early 20th century. It reveals that the anatomical spectacle is not new, but has remained in the gray area between education and entertainment for centuries.