CFP (Conference): Health, Illness, and the Art of Medicine (Deadline 25 May 2023)

Marsha Morton Discussion
Call for Papers
April 1, 2023 to May 25, 2023
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Health and Health Care, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Public Health

Paper proposals are solicited for a session sponsored by the Historians of German, Scandinavian, and Central European Art at the College Art Association conference in Chicago on February 14-17, 2023.  The session topic is "Health, Illness, and the Art of Medicine," which examines the cultural preoccupation with disease and hygiene from the late nineteenth-century through the 1920s. The first illustrated histories of medicine appeared in Germany, while Berlin and Vienna were the sites of pioneering medical discoveries in pathology (Rudolf Virchos), germ theory (Robert Koch), surgical techniques (Theodor Billroth), and antiseptic procedures (Hungarian Ignaz Semmelweis).  Germans were also at the forefront of naturopathy, founding the Deutscher Verein für Naturheilkunde und volksverständliche Gesundheitspflege in 1883 and initiating the Lebensreform movement.  Copenhagen became a center for heliotherapy for which Niels Ryberg Finsen received the Nobel Prize in 1903. Hygiene exhibitions were curated in Vienna in 1906 and in Dresden in 1911.  Despite recurrent pandemic outbreaks, an “epidemic of health” (Paul Niemeyer) prevailed. This session invites papers that consider how this cultural saturation with medical matters was reflected in popular visual culture and art from the mid-nineteenth century through the 1920s in Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Nordic countries. Papers could examine representations related to new medical practices, technology, or homeopathy and, for example, explore visualizations of pandemic disease, surgery, trauma in sick rooms, medical providers, and public health initiatives. Did such images celebrate achievements, express anxiety over medical innovations, or both?  How did the art of medicine in this period intersect with ideologies of and debates about gender, race, empire, and class? 

Respondant will be Allison Morehead, Queen's University, Canada

Please send proposals of 250 words and a 1-page CV to and

Contact Info: 

Marsha Morton, Professor of Art History, History of Art and Design Department, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY (

Patricia Berman, Theodora L. Stanley H. Feldberg Professor of Art, Department of Art, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA (