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Rose Holz – Art in the Service of Medical Education: The Robert L. Dickinson-Belskie Birth Series and the Use of Sculpture to Teach the Process of Human Development from Fertilization Through Delivery

April 13, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029

Rose Holz, historian of medicine and sexuality at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln; Associate Director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program and Director of Humanities in Medicine

Professor Rose Holz examines the life of Dr. Robert L. Dickinson (1861-1950), sexologist, gynecologist, artist extraordinaire (and highly active Academy Fellow), investigating the hugely influential Birth Series sculptures he created in 1939 with fellow artist Abram Belskie. The Birth Series illustrates the process of human development from fertilization through delivery. First displayed to much fanfare at the 1939-1940 New York City World’s Fair, the sculptures were reproduced in a variety of forms and sent out to medical teaching institutions and public health museums across the nation and the globe. Their effect, moreover, cannot be underestimated. The Birth Series both shaped modern gynecological education for aspiring practitioners and educated lay individuals in matters of pregnancy and reproduction and gave rise to new understandings of pregnancy radically different from those that held sway in the 1800s. In doing so, it also helped create the language and imagery central to modern reproductive politics.

Free, but advance registration is required; please visit the website for more details. A reception for Friends of the Rare Book Room to follow. Friends attending the reception please RSVP no later than Tuesday, April 4 to frbr@nyam.org or 212-822-7301.

Rose Holz is a historian of medicine and sexuality at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she serves as the Associate Director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program and Director of Humanities in Medicine. Her first book The Birth Control Clinic in a Marketplace World (Rochester, 2012) tells the story of Planned Parenthood from the clinic angle from the 1910s through the early 1970s. Continuing her interest in the history of sexuality, her current project investigates the intersection of medicine and art by way Dr. Robert L. Dickinson (1861-1950) — gynecologist, sexologist, and artist extraordinaire — and his prolific ten-year collaboration with fellow artist Abram Belskie (1907-1988). Not only did it yield in 1939 the hugely influential Birth Series sculptures but also hundreds of medical teaching models about women’s and men’s sexual anatomies.

This lecture is sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine.


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