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    Face transplantation and the anatomy of facelessness

    Biernoff, Suzannah (2020) Face transplantation and the anatomy of facelessness. European Journal of Anatomy 24 (S1), pp. 29-37. ISSN 1136-4890.

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    Heather Laine Talley locates the still-experimental technique of face transplantation within a contemporary ‘disfigurement imaginary’ that equates facial difference with social death. This paper extends Talley’s account by considering the ideological and affective components of ‘facelessness’ as a shared cultural idea. The first part of the article argues that ‘facelessness’ has a history that links the stigma of facial war injuries in early twentieth century Europe to current assumptions about the horror of disfigurement. The second part of the article uses Georges Franju’s Les Yeux sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face, 1959) to examine the aesthetics of horror and the uses of cinematic disgust. The paper concludes with a discussion of the ‘framing’ or management of disgust in the contexts of transplant medicine and anatomical illustration. Face transplantation, it is argued, presents a particular challenge to the ‘spare parts’ model that has dominated the biomedical approach to organ transfer.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Medical Humanities, Centre for
    Depositing User: Suzannah Biernoff
    Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2019 15:35
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:50


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