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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.

Words by Suzannah Biernoff

  • In pictures

About the author

Portrait photograph of a woman with glasses and collar-length hair, smiling.

Suzannah Biernoff

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.