Stories

War and disfigurement

During World War I facial injury was often portrayed as the “worst loss of all” – a loss not just of appearance, but of identity, and even humanity. Suzannah Biernoff looks back at the surgeons and sculptors involved in the experimental work of facial reconstruction.

By Suzannah Biernoff

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About the author

Photograph of Suzannah Biernoff

Suzannah Biernoff

Suzannah Biernoff at Birkbeck, University of London

Suzannah Biernoff is a reader in Visual Culture in the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck and co-convenor of Birkbeck’s Centre for Medical Humanities. Her recent publications include ‘Portraits of Violence: War and the Aesthetics of Disfigurement’ and ‘Theatres of surgery: the cultural pre-history of the face transplant’, which was featured on the Wellcome Open Research Blog.