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Other titles in the Cultural Memory in the Present series:
Anatomy of the Passions (Cultural Memory in the Present)by Francois Delaporte
Synopses & Reviews
The study of facial expression and its musculature undertaken by Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne de Boulogne in 1862, an attempt to secure biological meaning in the natural language of the emotions, resulted in the pioneering Méchanisme du physiognomie humaine. Duchenne, who used photography to document his experiments, inspired Charles Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) and had a significant influence on artists (his teachings were incorporated into the curriculum of the École Normale Supérieur des Beaux Arts). Through Duchenne, François Delaporte provides a remarkable philosophical and historical examination of expressive physiology during the mid-nineteenth century and considers the science of emotion as a means of revealing inner life upon the surface of the face. The central concern of Anatomy of the Passions is how techniques of studying facial musculature became a point of contact between existing and novel understandings of the body's expressive anatomy. Delaporte shows that Duchenne entirely reordered the knowledge and limits of expressive physiology in science and art. The face became a site where the signs of inner life are silently revealed, not yet betrayed by speech, but brought forth by reflexive physiology or by technical manipulation.
Book News Annotation:
Delaporte (philosophy, U. de Picardie Jules Verne) takes us into the world of Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne de Boulogne, a nineteenth-century researcher who sought a biological basis for emotions by studying facial expressions. His experiments, which included photographing faces under the influence of emotion, inspired Charles Darwin and generations of artists. Delaporte explains why Duchenne felt his study was essential to revealing the inner life of the mind, and how he developed a system that incorporated observations of the mechanism of musculature with responses to emotional stimuli. The result is not only an elegant explanation of Duchenne's methods and conclusions, but also a fascinating glimpse at how nineteenth-century scientists came to their conclusions. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Through the pioneering work of Duchenne de Boulogne, Franois Delaporte provides a remarkable philosophical and historical examination of expressive physiology during the mid-19th century, and considers the science of emotion as a means of revealing inner life—thoughts, feelings—upon the surface of the face.
About the Author
François Delaporte is Professor of Philosophy at Université de Picardie Jules-Verne in Amiens, France. His publications include Nature's Second Kingdom (1982), The History of Yellow Fever (1991), and Disease and Civilization (1986).
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