October 15, 2020

new web exhibit has launched for the 2019 Special Collections Research Center exhibition, Fetus in Utero: From Mystery to Social Media. Curators Brian Callender, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine; and Margaret Carlyle, former Postdoctoral Researcher and Instructor, Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, collaborated with Teodora Szasz and Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield of the Research Computing Center at the University of Chicago to create the new virtual exhibit.

Once restricted to the privacy of the doctor’s office, ultrasound images of the fetus are now immediately recognizable in the public arena, through advertising and social media, where posts tagged “baby’s first pic” are commonplace. These depictions of the fetus in utero have become iconic and are arguably the most easily recognized medical image. How and why did this happen? And at what price and to what end?

The exhibition takes an historical approach to this question by exploring the complex evolution of the fetal image in Western Christian culture over the past 500 years. Please note that this exhibition contains historical medical imagery.

View the online exhibition.

This article originally featured on the UChicago Library website.

Imgae details: Detail from Du Coudray, Abrégé de l’art des accouchements dans lequel on donne les préceptes nécessaires pour le mettre heureusement en pratique, 1777. RG93.L45 Rare. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.