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Wounded: ‘A small Scar will be much discerned’: treating facial wounds in early modern Britain

Cock, Emily ORCID: 2019. Wounded: ‘A small Scar will be much discerned’: treating facial wounds in early modern Britain. Science Museum Group Journal 11 (11) 10.15180/191111

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This article examines the treatment of facial wounds in early modern Britain through a close study of the casebook of St Bartholomew’s Hospital surgeon Joseph Binns (d. 1664). It explores surgeons’ and related practitioners’ special attention to the care and infliction of facial wounds and scarring in their practice, including impairments to facial movement and expression, the use of specific suturing techniques and the reduced use of stitches, and the development of agglutinative medicaments. The face was recognised as a site of immense vulnerability and exposure, requiring particular care, and this vulnerability was mirrored in the capacity for facial scarring to detrimentally advertise a practitioner’s skill. This essay reads Binns’ unpublished notes against the cases and theoretical ideals set out in published texts from surgeons such as the Scottish Alexander Read, the East India Company surgeon John Woodall, and the London surgeon and physician Daniel Turner. I argue that both the textbooks and Binns’ practice demonstrate awareness of the special role of the face in the early modern period, and that this guided the medical approach to disfiguring injuries and conditions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
ISSN: 2054-5770
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 June 2019
Date of Acceptance: 4 April 2019
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 06:36

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