Shared Suffering Onscreen: Animal Experiments and Emotional Investment in the Films of O. H. Mowrer

NEWEST ESSAY & FILM
By Benjamín Schultz-Figueroa, PhD, Assistant Professor in Film Studies, Seattle University

The history of animal testing and the history of the life sciences go hand in hand. As Claude Bernard, the founder of physiology, stated, experimental animals, particularly frogs, are “closely associated with [experimenters’] labors and their scientific glory.” And yet, these experiments were always fraught, as scientists had to manage their own emotional entanglement with their animal subjects, who often were killed or maimed in the process of the experiment. Donna Haraway describes these emotional and ethical complexities as the “shared suffering” of the lab. This argument is premised on the recognition of animal agency in the lab, a space where animals, apparatuses, and scientists are all responding and responsible to each other, though in very different ways.

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Air Pollution Is a Human Problem: Mary Catterall’s Campaign for Clean Air in Leeds, England

By Angela Saward, BA, MTA, Wellcome Collection

Dr. Mary Catterall (1922-2015), doctor and sculptor, script and medical adviser to the film, It Takes Your Breath Away, became concerned with lung health when she was appointed Senior Registrar in Respiratory Medicine at Leeds General Infirmary, England in 1960. The film won a Silver Medal at the British Medical Association annual film competition in 1964.

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Can Leprosy Be Cured?

By Magnus Vollset, PhD and Michael Sappol, PhD

Leprosy in India [Lepra in India in the original German] is a hard film to watch. In the course of its 12 minutes, it puts before the camera patients who suffer from a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild discoloration of the skin to terrible facial and bodily disfigurement, and loss of fingers and toes.

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Erdheim’s Autopsy: Dissection, Motion Pictures, and the Politics of Health in “Red Vienna”

By Tatjana Buklijas, Birgit Nemec, and Katrin Pilz

Sometime in the last century a fragment of silent film landed at the National Library of Medicine. Like many of the older films in the collection, how it got there is a mystery: no paperwork survives to tell the tale; no other prints of the film appear to have survived; no other sources on its making or showing have turned up.

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A Cinematic and Physiological Puzzle: Soviet Conjoined Twins Research, Scientific Cinema and Pavlovian Physiology

By Nikolai Krementsov, PhD

Among the many old motion pictures shelved in the collection of the National Library of Medicine is a uniquely strange two-reel 16 millimeter film, with an ungainly title: Neural and Humoral Factors in the Regulation of Bodily Functions (Research on Conjoined Twins).

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