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Anatomies: Representing the medical body
Provider: Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Activity no.: 3554-24-00-00 
Enrollment deadline: 25/03/2024
Date and time10.04.2024, at: 08:30 - 12.04.2024, at: 15:30
Regular seats15
Course fee5,520.00 kr.
LecturersKarin Tybjerg
ECTS credits2.00
Contact personAnnegrethe Hansen    E-mail address: ahan@sund.ku.dk
Enrolment Handling/Course OrganiserPhD administration     E-mail address: phdkursus@sund.ku.dk

Aim and content

This course is free of charge for PhD students at Danish universities (except Copenhagen Business School), and for PhD Students from NorDoc member faculties. All other participants must pay the course fee.

Anyone can apply for the course, but if you are not a PhD student at a Danish university, you will be placed on the waiting list until enrollment deadline. This also applies to PhD students from NorDoc member faculties. After the enrollment deadline, available seats will be allocated to applicants on the waiting list.

Long title: Anatomies: Thinking critically about representations of the medical body

Learning objectives

A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:

1. Understand how representations of the body in anatomical images, museum specimens, text books and educational resources are constructed.

2. Be able to theorize and critically apply ideas about objectivity to current medical textbooks and technologically mediated images of the body.

3. Understand how the categories of race, gender, sexuality, and disability have been addressed (or not) in anatomical teaching in the past.

4. Use new creative tools like art and object handling to critically reflect on how representations influence medical practice.


This course uses the perspectives of art, history, anthropology, and philosophy to critically analyse the representations of the body that form the basis of medical knowledge in the past and today. Anatomical images and representations are one of the most important ways that clinicians understand the body in their education and practice – whether these are images in textbooks, anatomical specimens, contemporary imaging techniques like CT scans, or a live video feed from a keyhole surgery. But these are almost always idealized representations of the body – which is often male, white and abled – and they are often based on other representations. How can we learn to think critically about our representations and images of the body?

Lecturers across disciplines including anthropology, history, philosophy, art, and anatomy discuss the supposedly objective representations of bodies in medicine. We will explore how representations of the body are medical but also social, and cultural. Speakers will include professor in anatomy Jørgen Tranum-Jensen (UCPH), historian Kristin Hussey (Medical Museion / Newcastle University), illustrator Christoffer Gertz-Bech and medical philosopher Helene Scott-Fordsmand (postdoc, University of Cambridge) who will provide their own unique insights on these issues. Students will have the opportunity to learn with historic objects from Medical Museion’s collections, and take part in visual methodologies like drawing and collage.

Participants will gain an understanding that the images encountered in medical practice and teaching are idealized representations that come from particular social, technological and historical contexts. Through facilitated and creative exercises like drawing and object handling, participants will develop new ways of thinking about and relating to not only anatomical images and illustrations but the people they represent. The competencies gained on this course will help students to move past the textbook and see the whole patient body.


The course is directed towards PhD students in courses related to clinical practice, but it will also be of interest to those in broader medical fields like public health and epidemiology as well as medical anthropologists, sociologists and historians. Interest in or knowledge of the approaches of the medical humanities (anthropology, history, art, philosophy) would be an advantage for achieving the learning objectives of this course. Students at all stages of their PhD would benefit from this course.

Relevance to graduate programmes

The course is relevant to PhD students from the following graduate programmes at the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences, UCPH:

All graduate programmes

Medicine, Culture and Society

Public Health and Epidemiology




This course will take place over three days. The course will consist of a mixture of lectures, group discussions, practical hands-on lab sessions (like object handling) and creative exercises (like drawing and creative writing). Participants will receive tours of Medical Museion's displays related to anatomy and will have the chance to get up close with the museum's historical collections.

As preparation for the course, participants are asked to write a short, half-page reflection on their background and why they are interested in attending the course. They are also expected to read the literature sent to them in advance so they can participate in discussions during the course.

On the last day, participants will give a brief presentation of an area of the course of particular interest to them and its relations to their own work. This may consist of an analysis of an image, drawing or specimen or of some of the reading material.

Please send or hand in your preparatory Introduction/motivation to Karin Tybjerg: karin.tybjerg@sund.ku.dk

Course director

Karin Tybjerg, Associate Professor, Medical Museion, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, karin.tybjerg@sund.ku.dk


Karin Tybjerg, Associate Professor, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen

Kristin Hussey, Postdoc, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, Univeristy of Copenhagen / (from 1 June) Lecturer, University of Newcastle, Department of History, UK.

Simone Grytter, Research Assistant, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen

Helene Scott-Fordsmand, Postdoc, University of Cambridge

Christoffer Gertz-Bech, independent illustrator

Jørgen Tranum-Jensen, Professor with special duties, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, University of Copenhagen

Amalie Suurballe Schjøtt-Wieth, conservator, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen


10-12 April 2024

Course location

Appendix Room, Medical Museion,


Please register before 25 marts 2024.

Expected frequency

The course has been run once before, when it was oversubscribed. We do not anticipate to run it again in this form.

Seats to PhD students from other Danish universities will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and according to the applicable rules. Applications from other participants will be considered after the last day of enrolment.

Note: All applicants are asked to submit invoice details in case of no-show, late cancellation or obligation to pay the course fee (typically non-PhD students). If you are a PhD student, your participation in the course must be in agreement with your principal supervisor.

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