Media @ McGill

Hunter, Mary


Associate Professor

Interest and Bio: 

Mary Hunter joined the faculty at McGill in 2007 after completing her PhD at University College London. She specializes in nineteenth-century French art and visual culture, and teaches classes on modern and contemporary art. Her research projects and publications examine: the relationship between art and medicine; the role of contemporary and historical art and material culture in hospitals; theories of time; the competing claims to truth made by different media, formal practices and discourses; the formation of identities and how they pertain to sexuality, gender, race, sickness and health; the relationship between popular, artistic and scientific spectacles; the politics of looking; and the phenomenology of waiting. Hunter’s research has been funded by the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, the University of London, the New York Academy of Medicine, McGill University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec–Société et Culture.


Hunter’s current book project, Waiting: Slow Time in the Impressionist Era, explores various experiences of waiting in nineteenth-century French art and culture. Through an exploration of the phenomenology of waiting, she analyses artworks, buildings, media and events that bring to light the tensions between the slow time of waiting and the speed and efficiency of modern life. Hunter recently united her research and teaching in an innovative collaborative project between art history students and McGill University Health Centre’s Arts and Heritage Collection. Graduate and undergraduate students in Hunter’s seminar class researched previously unstudied images and objects in the MUHC collection and curated display cases spread throughout the Glen site hospitals. This public outreach project encouraged students, hospital workers, caregivers and patients to think differently about the role of the visual in medical history, practice and spaces, and to see its potential to educate, incite debate and perhaps even heal.


Hunter’s recent book, The Face of Medicine: Visualising Medical Masculinities in late Nineteenth-Century Paris (Manchester University Press, 2016), explores why, how and where the worlds of art and medicine overlapped during the Third Republic in France through an analysis of visual representations of three prominent medical men: the chemist, Louis Pasteur; the neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot; and the surgeon, Jules-Émile Péan. Through an examination of sources surrounding the production, display and receptions of the imagery surrounding these men, Hunter considers how artists and physicians worked together to create realistic representations of bodies. By examining various objects – Salon portraits, medical textbooks, artists’ manuals, paintings, encyclopedias, doctors’ letters and meeting notes, caricatures, dictionaries, novels, professional purchases, newspapers, art reviews, and, importantly, the multiple objects found in medical museums and hospitals, such as wax models, photographs, plaster casts, marble busts and drawings – Hunter explores what is at stake in the relationship between art and medical iconography.

Recent and forthcoming publications include:

The Face of Medicine: Visualising Medical Masculinities in late Nineteenth-Century Paris. Manchester University Press, 2016.

“The Parallel Practices of Art and Surgery”, The History of Surgery Reader. Ed. Thomas Schliche. Palgrave (forthcoming 2017).

“Garçon! Waiters, Labour and Performance in Degas’s The Spectators’, Perspectives on Degas. Ed. Kathryn Brown. Ashgate (forthcoming 2016).

“Intern, Orderly, Artist, Corpse: Emerging masculinities in Henri Gervex’s Autopsy a l’Hôtel Dieu.” Oxford Art Journal. Vol. 38, no. 3 (2015): 407-426.

“Mouths that Bite: Rabies, Sexuality and Pasteur’s Cure.” Picturing Evolution and Extinction: Regeneration and Degeneration in Modern Visual Culture. Eds. Fae Brauer and Serena Keshavejee. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.

“What I learned visiting my mom at the hospital.” The Globe and Mail, September 17, 2013.

“Medical Masculinity and Sleeping Beauties:  Identity and Sexuality in Henri Gervex’s Avant l’opération.Gender Scripts in Medicine and Narrative. Eds. Angela Laflen and Marcelline Block. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010. 32-63.

“Science Uncovered.” Oxford Art Journal, vol. 32, no. 1 (2009): 153-156. 

“‘Effroyable Réalisme’: Wax, Femininity and the Madness of Realist Fantasies.” Special Issue, “Medical Tabulae: Visual Arts and Medical Representation”, Revue d’art canadienne/Canadian Art Review (RACAR), vol. 33, no. 1-2 (2008): 43-58.

Faculty page: 

Visit Professor Hunter's faculty page here.


Hunter teaches undergraduate and graduate courses including: Introduction to Modern Art; Realism and Impressionism; The Body and Visual Culture; Art and Society in France, 1870-1914; The Visual Culture of Medicine; Women and Illness; Curating Medical Spaces.


Nineteenth-century art; gender, race, sexuality, sickness and health.