The fifth centenary of Vesalius’s birth has been celebrated in North America and Europe with thousands of events and publications, recognizing his Fabric of the Human Body (1543, 1555) as a keystone in history of medicine and a major work of art. Now, few people have read this Latin description of the body —the first English translations date of the end of the 20th century — but many people know the illustrations that accompanied it. The engravings of the book — often cited as Vesalius’s work as their author remained, for a long period, unknown — have been, since the first publication in 1543, admired, copied, reproduced. The Fabric has profoundly changed the use of images for medical knowledge: it has linked understanding and seeing in a new way, that we can recognize in our contemporary medical imaging; it has also established the beauty of anatomical representations, which is now perceivable in the fascination for Body Worlds or Street Anatomy. Looking at the Fabric’s pages, we’ll explore how Vesalius conceived a new kind of book, where he presents himself as the genial hero of a new science and of a new manner of writing science.
Lecture given by Hélène Cazes, Professor at the University of Victoria (Department of French) and the Director of the Program of Medieval Studies
Presented by in collaboration with Le Département de langue et littérature françaises and Rare & Special Collections, Osler, Art, and Archives (ROAAr)
Hélène Cazes is the Director of the Program of Medieval Studies and the Faculty coordinator of the Humanities Diploma Program. She is also the President of the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies and Associate Editor for Renaissance et Réforme/Renaissance and Reformation. Professor Cazes is the recipient of the Faculty of Humanities Award for Research Excellence for 2013.
This event is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.