“Like a Piece of Spaghetti”: Cadavers as Food in Gross Anatomy Lab


Lisa Gabbert (Utah State University)

In his 1975 essay “The Corpse,” Dr. Richard Selzer compares the human corpse to decaying food. A physician, Selzer was aware that there is little difference between humans and animal protein, an awareness that manifests visually to medical students as they begin dissection in gross anatomy lab. This paper examines the contemporary legends, visual analogies, and metaphors that arise in the lab that compare cadavers with food. I argue that such analogies perform important boundary work in an environment where students not only engage in crossing boundaries themselves but also are in the midst having their own classificatory systems rearranged.

Part of 17-01 Continuing Conversations, Communicating Death, Monday, October 18, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm