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Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism

Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism

Stanley B. Burns, MD and Elizabeth A. Burns

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This intriguing and comprehensive exploration of the skeleton and the dead body includes more than 400 rare photographs. Stanley B. Burns, MD, has studied, collected and written on medical photography for over four decades focusing on unexplored areas. His books have placed him in the forefront of medical photographic history scholarship. This work reveals the nineteenth-century fascination with the dead body and body parts. The classic visual iconography of postmortem, dissection, and bone photography is presented and expanded to include early autopsy images and X-ray studies. No prior visual work has presented the once very popular hobby of collecting skulls and also shown their use in racial and psychological profiling research. This sumptuously illustrated book with previously unpublished photographs is an extraordinary work of medical, historical and cultural research. It is a timeless visual essay that will surely become a standard resource for collectors, curators, artists, and scholars.

Size: 12″ x 12″ | 450 photos | 328 pp
ISBN13: 9780764347467 | Binding: hard cover

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Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS, a New York City ophthalmologist and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, New York University: Langone Medical Center, is an internationally distinguished author, curator, historian, collector, and archivist. Dr. Burns’s collection of over one million vintage photographs (1840-1950) has been generally recognized as the most important private comprehensive collection of early photography. He has authored 43 photo-historical texts and over 1000 articles and served as editor of several medical journals. Over the past 40 years, he has consulted and contributed to hundreds of feature films, documentaries, television productions and publications. When not collecting, Dr. Burns spends his consulting, lecturing, creating exhibits, and writing books on underappreciated areas of history and photography. Elizabeth A. Burns is the Creative and Operations Director of The Burns Archive and Press. She has curated numerous exhibitions and created several books, including Sleeping Beauty II, Geisha: A Photographic History, 1872-1913 and The Burns Archive Medical Specialty Series. In 2002, under a grant by the United States and Israeli governments, she produced A Dream Deferred, The African-American Experience 1848-1928. Other exhibits she has prepared feature works on hand-painted Japanese photography, early flight, spirit photography, criminology, Lewis Hine and the playground, African-American history, the SS Ben Hecht, and special medical exhibits on respiratory, dermatology and kidney disease. She is currently working as a consultant medical photo-historian on the HBO/Cinemax series The Knick.