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Epistémologie, Histoire

Workshop « Visual Testimony and the archive », Exeter, 18 Septembre 2014

J’interviendrai le 18 Septembre dans le workshop Visual Testimony and the archive à l’Université d’Exeter dans le cadre du projet 1914FACES2014 organisé par le Pr David Houston Jones

Workshop « Visual Testimony and the archive » – Exeter, september, 18th 2014

Programme à télécharger : Visual testimony and the Archive

This workshop considers the capacity of the archive to produce visual testimony. In particular, we examine the documentary traces of the First World War with particular attention to photography and film. What is the significance of these and other visual media for our understanding of the legacy of the gueules cassées (the facially injured soldiers of WWI)? As part of our inquiry into the cultural legacy of the gueules cassées, we examine the uses to which archival images have been put, from magic lantern slides to newsreel footage and the intertwining of the documentary and the fictional in features such as Gance’s J’accuse (1919).

« Alberic Pont’s Archive Collection : nature, functions and aims of visual representations of the Gueules cassées, from medical uses to testimony ».

In this paper, I will present The Alberic Pont’s Archive Collection, which has recently been acquired by the Inter-University Science Library of Paris-Descartes. This collection is entirely original and has not been yet analysed. It is mainly composed of of visual representations : photographies of injured soldiers before and after surgical procedures, drawings of orthodontic apparels, and mouldings of injured faces.

My purpose is to analyse the dual function of such representations.

On the one hand, they obviously had a medical and surgical function of recording and scientific transmission : showing the techniques (and their successes) through the pictures of the apparels and instruments and through the results of the procedures. On the other hand, they were also testimonies. The point is to understand what are the kinds and the aims of these testimonies : are they professional and sociological ? (An element in his teaching method ? The testimony of Pont’s personal medical experience, exposed in his dental surgery to show successes to his bourgeois clientele ?) But don’t they have also political and cultural functions (from war and post-war « propaganda » to collective memory) ? We will analyse this point by analysing the function of these representation in the career of Alberic Pont, and more widely by retracing their uses and destinies during and after the First World War.

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