The Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science (CHSS) is an interdisciplinary graduate program dedicated to the study of the history, philosophy, and social relations of science. Read more…


Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th

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Friday, April 27th at 12:00pm (Noon)

The Fishbein Workshop in the History of Human Sciences presents
Margaret Carlyle
*Friday, April 27*
12:00pm (Noon)
Putting Skeletons On The Map: The Tradition of Eighteenth-Century Anatomical Atlases
Discussant: Emily Webster
John Hope Franklin Room (Social Sciences 224)
Refreshments will be served.

This paper analyzes a new tradition of sumptuously illustrated anatomical atlases that appeared in Enlightenment Europe. Specifically, the English surgeon William Cheselden’s Osteographia, or the Anatomy of Bones (1733), the Dutch anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus’ Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani(1747), and the French polymath Mme Thiroux d’Arconville’s Traité d’Ostéologie (1759). All three atlases pictured human skeletons in naturalistic ways, by blending neoclassical notions of beauty with a new brand of empirical rigor. Drawing on these midcentury examples, I argue that such atlases transcribed the idealized human skeleton from nature onto the printed page through a series of steps that were both veiled under and hailed in the name of scientific objectivity. The anatomist projected himself—and more discreetly, herself, in the case of Thiroux d'Arconville—as nature’s translator. The resulting imagery built a virtual connection between nature writ large and the enlightened reader, by ensuring a degree of realism that made for a viable alternative to textual and verbal modes of pedagogy in ways that surpassed the stylistic and technical possibilities of Renaissance graphics. The appearance of these atlases also served anatomy at a time of disciplinary ferment, by elevating the profile of the anatomist and serving as tools of patronage.

The Social Science Research Building is located at 1126 East 59th Street. The building is accessible for all. For further information please contact Beth Calderon at

Please email Beth at for a copy of the pre-circulated paper.

Saturday, May 5th at 10:00am

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