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    Repairing war's ravages: the rhetoric of facial injury in First World War Britain

    Biernoff, Suzannah (2009) Repairing war's ravages: the rhetoric of facial injury in First World War Britain. In: Group for War and Culture Studies, Research Seminar, 2009, University of Westminster, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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    During the First World War, the horror of facial mutilation was evoked in journalism, poems, memoirs and fiction; but in Britain it was almost never represented visually outside the professional contexts of clinical medicine and medical history. This article asks why, and offers an account of British visual culture in which visual anxiety and aversion are of central importance. By comparing the rhetoric of disfigurement to the parallel treatment of amputees, an asymmetrical picture emerges in which the ‘worst loss of all’—the loss of one's face—is perceived as a loss of humanity. The only hope was surgery or, if that failed, prosthetic repair: innovations that were often wildly exaggerated in the popular press. Francis Derwent Wood was one of several sculptors whose technical skill and artistic ‘wizardry’ played a part in the improvised reconstruction of identity and humanity.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): disfigurement, plastic surgery, prosthetics, visual culture, First World War
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Arts > History of Art
    Research Centre: Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2013 15:46
    Last Modified: 12 Dec 2016 09:15


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