Jonathan W. MarshallMay 29, 2018
The Dramaturgy of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot
Palgrave Macmillan 2016
French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot is perhaps most well known today from the images of his “hysterical” female patients featured in Bourneville’s Iconographie Photographique de la Salpêtrière. While not diminishing the epistemological and aesthetic importance of “the image” to Charcot, Jonathan W. Marshall argues in Performing Neurology: The Dramaturgy of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) that the work of the French neurologist is best understood through the lens of dramaturgy. He demonstrates the spatial and temporal implications of Charcot’s neurological practice as steeped in neo-classical aesthetics and deeply attuned to scenography, showmanship, and stage production. Using convincing evidence drawn from critiques of Charcot, Marshall demonstrates in Performing Neurology that the power and danger of mixing medicine and theatrics was not lost on Charcot’s contemporaries.