Cultures of Collecting: The Eighteenth-Century Leiden Anatomical Collections in Context

(PhD project, Leiden University, 2008-2012)

For my PhD project, I studied how changing ideas about the ideal human body shaped the materiality and iconology of the eighteenth-century Leiden anatomical collections and vice versa. This resulted in a dissertation and a number of peer-reviewed articles in international journals and edited volumes. The project attracted attention from the Dutch press, and was covered in local and national newspapers and popular science magazines.

Moreover, the project was the basis for my monograph, Elegant Anatomy, published with Brill in 2015. In this book, I introduced the novel analytical concept of aesthesis, as these historical medical collections may seem strange, and undeniably have a morbid aesthetic, yet are neither curiosities nor art. Unlike existing literature on historical anatomical collections, this book takes the objects in the collections as its starting point, instead of the people that created them. As the book deals with issues related to the keeping and displaying of historical human remains, it is highly relevant for material culture and museum studies, cultural history, the history of scientific collections and the history of medicine alike. It received critical acclaim in reviews in international journals such as Isis and Early Science and Medicine.