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Dermography. Ethics and Aesthetics of Skin Writing

Project description

Literature and the societal role of skin

Our skin delivers valuable information about our individual and collective well-being as it has always served as a canvas for cultural and societal phenomena. Studies on skin result essentially in the analysis and understanding of the cultural and societal role of skin. The EU-funded DEAS project will apply comparative literary studies to place different skin narratives and skin writing in context. The project relies on the consideration that skin samples and artificial skin research have never been combined in a literary context. DEAS combines cultural, medical and intellectual history with archives of actual skin samples, ethics and psychoanalysis, connecting the results with contemporary biophysics, life sciences, and the health and beauty industries.

Objective

We are only just now beginning to understand the importance of human skin for our individual and collective well-being. According to biophysicist Georges Limbert (2019), “skin tells a story about our health status, age, past traumas, emotions, ethnicity and our social and physical environment”. As the oldest and most sensitive of our organs, it provides us with powerful collective mental images of both intimacy and integrity. Just as in the Freudian ‘Wunderblock’ (mystic writing pad), it remembers and records our personal biographies and traumas. Skin, in other words, is closely related to writing. Within literature skin has always been a special canvas that allows the study of cultural and societal phenomena. Accordingly, literature plays a crucial role whenever we try to analyze and understand the cultural and societal role of skin. Rooted in comparative literary studies, “Dermography. Ethics and Aesthetics of Skin Writing” [DEAS] integrates cultural, medical and intellectual history with archives of actual skin samples, ethics and psychoanalysis and relates its findings to contemporary biophysics and the life sciences, including the health and beauty industries. As a literary project, DEAS will put various skin narratives and skin writing (dermography) into context while at the same time taking into account skin’s materiality in a concrete sense: Working with actual skin samples and artificial skin research has never been done before in a literary context. Exploring the unique collection of the Medical Museion in Copenhagen, one of the largest of its kind, and integrating it in research that goes far beyond its archival significance, is a pioneering approach that challenges both traditional literary scholarship and curatorial methods. By focusing on the affinity of skin and writing, DEAS will offer the first substantial literary contribution to the new research field of Skin Studies.

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Coordinator

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET
Net EU contribution
€ 219 312,00
Address
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Denmark

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Region
Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00