Diagnosis, Madness: The Photographic Physiognomy of Hugh Welch Diamond

Sharrona Pearl, University of Pennsylvania

Wagner Free Institute of Science, Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science

Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 5:00pm

Date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 Time: 6:00-7:30 PM Location: Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 West Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19121 Admission is free, suggested donation of $8-$10 for adults to the Wagner Institute ensures continued programming like this one. Register for the talk here. Can we see ourselves better through the lens of others? Victorian asylum doctor Hugh Welch Diamond thought so. An important innovator of early photographic techniques, Diamond used pictures with his patients for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, staging his pictures to maximize their efficacy for both. Through photographic physiognomy, Diamond tried to change the nature of asylum practice, using images of his patients to nurture them to health without physical restraints. We’ll examine his pictures, and at the same time, we’ll examine our own reactions to them, gauging not just what pictures of patients tell us about the past, but what they tell us about ourselves. Sharrona Pearl is Assistant Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and an expert on the history of physiognomy, the study of facial features and their relationship to character traits. Dr. Pearl's first book was About Faces: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Harvard University Press, 2010) and she is currently working on a new book Face/On: Face Transplants and the Meaning of Identity.