As discussed in this recent post, tonight professor Stephen Asma of Chicago's Columbia College will be at Observatory to deliver a much-anticipated lecture "Museums, Monsters and the Moral Imagination." This heavily-illustrated lecture will draw on the scholarship explored in two of his books--the very influential Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads and his new On Monsters--and will examine how science museums and monsters both illustrate the essential yet problematic human "urge to classify, set boundaries, and draw lines between the natural and the unnatural the human" and to "try to excavate some of the moral uses and abuses of this impulse."
Asma's written work--which has influenced my own projects immeasurably--is scholarly yet conversational, fun yet of the utmost earnestness; I am sure his lecture will strike the same balance, making this lecture truly not-to-be-missed. Both of Dr. Asma's books will be available for sale and signing at the event. Full details follow; hope very much to see you there!
Museums, Monsters and the Moral ImaginationYou can find out more about this presentation here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here. To find out more about Asma's fantastic books, click here and here.
An Illustrated lecture with Professor Stephen Asma, author of Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: the Culture and History of Natural History Museums and On Monsters.
Date: Tonight, Thursday, April 22
Time: 8:00 PM
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
In this illustrated lecture, professor Stephen Asma–author of the the definitive study of the natural history museum Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: the Culture and History of Natural History Museums–will draw upon his studies of science museums and monsters to reflect on their often hidden moral aspects. Museums are saying more about values than many people notice, and the same can be said about our cultural fascinations with monsters. The urge to classify, set boundaries, and draw lines between the natural and the unnatural are age-old impulses. In this lecture, Dr. Asma will try to excavate some of the moral uses and abuses of this impulse.
Stephen T. Asma is the author of Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: the Culture and History of Natural History Museums (Oxford) and more recently On Monsters: an Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Oxford). He is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago and Fellow of the LAS Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture at Columbia. You can find out more about him at his website, www.stephenasma.com.
Image: From The Secret Museum; Pathological Cabinet, the Museum of the Faculty of Medicine at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow. © Joanna Ebenstein