• Offered by School of Art and Design
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Art History
  • Areas of interest Art History, Gender Studies, Visual Arts
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course

In this course we interrogate the many and varied intersections and frictions between the medical and the visual from the Renaissance until today, with a focus on the gendering of medical knowledge, its practitioners, and patients. Topics of inquiry include: anatomical illustration; obstetric imagery; war and disability; arts activism; medicine in contemporary art; and the medical 'gaze.' Different kinds of images and objects are dealt with in each class, from illustrations of dissections through to oil paintings of celebrity physicians, photographs of ‘hysterics’ to patient self-portraits. We take an object-based approach, with students being encouraged to find images and objects of interest to them for focused examination. Together we endeavour to develop new methodologies for thinking critically and writing sensitively about images and objects that sit at the intersection of the history of art and the history of medicine, disability studies and gender studies.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. find, identify and analyse different kinds of objects and visual materials related to the history and practice of medicine;
  2. conceptualise the roles of artefacts and images in medicine broadly defined;
  3. demonstrate a firm understanding of the cultural and historical contexts of different visual representations of medicine from the Renaissance until today;
  4. write and talk critically about the relationship between art and medicine during the modern period, with an emphasis on gender and sexuality;
  5. engage with the nature and practice of interdisciplinarity, as it relates to the history of art, the history of medicine, gender studies, queer studies, and disability studies.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Take-Home Test, 1000 words (30) [LO 1,3,5]
  2. Oral Presentation, 8 minutes (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Extended Research Essay, 2500 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: lectures, seminars and tutorials; and

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing. Contact hours may include visits to major art institutions in Canberra.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 36 units of courses towards an ANU degree, or with the permission of the convenor. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ARTH6174 (Art. Medicine, Gender).

Prescribed Texts

No textbook required.

Preliminary Reading

Blackshaw, Gemma and Topp, Leslie, eds. Madness and Modernity: Mental Illness and the Visual Arts in Vienna 1900. Lund Humphries, 2009.

Callen, Anthea. Spectacular Bodies: Science, Method and Meaning in the Work of Degas. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995.

Cartwright, Lisa. Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.

Crimp, Douglas. AIDS: Cultural Analysis, Cultural Activism. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988.

Day, Carolyn A and Amelia Rauser, ‘Thomas Lawrence’s Consumptive Chic: Reinterpreting Lady Manners’s Hectic Flush in 1794,’ Eighteenth-Century Studies 49 (2016): 455-474.

Gilman, Sander. Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race and Madness. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985.

Hunter, Mary. ‘Effroyable réalisme’: Wax, Femininity, and Madness or Realist Fantasies,’ RACAR 33, no.1-2 (2008): 43–58.

Johns, Elizabeth. ‘The Gross Clinic, or Portrait of Dr. Gross,’ 232-263. In M. Doezema and E. Milroy eds, Reading American Art. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.

Jordanova, Ludmilla. Sexual Visions: Images of Gender in Science and Medicine between the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.

Kemp, Martin and Marina Wallace. Spectacular Bodies: The Art and Science of the Human Body from Leonardo to Now. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2000.

Lomas, David. ‘Body languages: Kahlo and medical imagery,’ 5-19. In Kathleen Adler and Marcia Pointon eds, The Body Imaged: The Human Form and Visual Culture Since the Renaissance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Sheehan, Tanya. Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3120
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4800
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

There are no current offerings for this course.

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