By Dr Fallon
Reposted from the Surgery & Emotion Blog
WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF WOUNDS AND INJURIES
Pity and Pride: Picturing the War Wounded in the Work of Charles Bell
Principal Investigator Dr Michael Brown of Roehampton University considers the emotional content of the famous war paintings of the surgeon Charles Bell.
I recently had an article accepted for publication by the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies which explores the relationship of the Scottish surgical siblings John Bell (1763-1820) and Charles Bell (1774-1842) to war, especially their imaginative and professional investment in military surgery and their complex emotional reactions to the experience of treating the wounded. Drawing on Yuval Noah Harari’s argument that the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw war configured as an increasingly transcendent emotional event, it considers the difficulties of translating both professional identities and emotional experiences across a widening civil-military divide.
In this regard, what is particularly interesting about both John and Charles Bell is that neither man was a military surgeon. While Charles wrote in 1807 that ‘of all things I should like to be kept and sent to the armies as a surgeon’ and while John agitated for a role in the training of military surgeons, neither …read more