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Hustvedt Explores Medical Muses and Exploitation It comes as no
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It comes as no surprise that photography and entertainment have been used as tools to exploit the oppressed, but what happens when medical professionals are the ones behind it? Asti Hustvedt explores this idea in Medical Muses.
In the beginning, Hustvedt alludes to an Andre Brouillet painting of a doctor lecturing a group of men about hysteria with a female model. This model is a performing hysteric who works for Dr. Charcot and she is just one of the several women exploited for this purpose. Blanche Wittmann was considered the "queen of hysterics" at the age of 18. Her traumatic childhood left her imprisoned in a hospital for those deemed insane or untreatable. The ability to perform gave Blanche a dose of freedom in a time when "hysteria has become a fascinating and fashionable spectactle."
Hustvedt demonstrates excellent research and intriguing depictions of those involved. The author's rich backgrouns as a writer, editor, and traslator has perfectly suited her to write this piece, which is in no way clinical or dry. "Medical Muses" is not only nuanced and insightful, but it also delves into the role of photography in exploiting the oppressed. By the end of the book, she arrives at an intriguing concept: not only were these "muses" exploited by others, but they were also exploiting the system in their own right! Ultimately, these women found that the hospital they were living in was less oppressive than the world waiting for them outside - what a scary thought!
Posted June 18, 2011