Melissa Bailar


Student Project Titles List

Rice University at the Intersection of Epidemic and Global Crisis: Experiences of the 1918 Influenza and COVID-19 Pandemics

Research Areas

In the medical humanities, Melissa Bailar’s research focuses primarily on medical and anatomical museums, particularly questions about their curation and the ways in which their objects play on the uncanny. Many European museums cultivate a jumbled curiosity shop aesthetic, while displaying skeletons, wax models, and preserved human anomolies as well as sinister-looking medical instruments and occasional artifacts assembled from human body parts. Additionally, she researches the history of anatomical models, specifically the “anatomical venuses” fabricated during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when a new appreciation for pathology led to the creation of surgery as a medical specialty. References to these venuses populate nineteenth-century literature as well as pop culture and contemporary art. Outside of the medical humanities, Bailar’s research ranges from narrative structures of French feminist film, to literary and photographic representations of performing women, to the effects of digital knowledge platforms on higher education.