Katharine Park is the Samuel Zemurray, Jr., and Doris Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science and Women’s Studies at Harvard University, where she teaches courses on the history of early European science and medicine and on the history of women, gender, and the body.
At the Radcliffe Institute this year, Park will explore the contexts in which human autopsy and dissection became a permanent part of the Western tradition of medical teaching, research, and practice. Using Italian texts and images from the late thirteenth through the mid-sixteenth centuries, she will attack the persistent historiographical myth regarding medieval religious “taboos” against opening the human body and argue that the late medieval cult of the Christian saints both motivated and facilitated the practice of dissection. At the same time, she will demonstrate that one of the principal types of information sought by early anatomists concerned what contemporary male writers referred to as “women’s secrets”: the uterine mysteries of generation and reproduction.
Park received her MPhil from the University of London and her PhD from Harvard University. Her most recent book, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (Zone Books, 1998), coauthored with Lorraine Daston, won the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society and the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize of the Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference. She has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation, and she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.