Architecture for Anatomy: History, Affect, and the Material Reproduction of the Body in Two Medical School Buildings

J. Nott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Medical schools are among the most important spaces for the history of the body. It is here that students come to know the anatomical bodies of their future patients and, through a process of cognitive and embodied practice, that the knowing bodies of future clinicians are also shaped. Practical and theoretical understandings of medicine are formed in these affective and historied buildings and in collaboration with a broad material culture of education. Medical schools are, however, both under-theorised and under-historicised. This article integrates 'materialist' considerations of the body with Henri Lefebvre's philosophy of space and rhythm in order to compare two markedly different spaces - the 19th-century Anatomy Department at Semmelweis University in Hungary and the mid-20th-century 'skills laboratory' at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. This comparison suggests that biomedical bodies are variously shaped by the agential and affective material histories present in the everyday experience of contemporary medical education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalBody & Society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2023


  • affect
  • body history
  • material culture
  • medical education
  • rhythm
  • space

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