'A Black Lecture on Phrenology', c 1880s.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 21cm x 32cm

'A Black Lecture on Phrenology', c 1880s.

Follitt, John

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Caricature with text depicting a 'lecture' on phrenology, specifically the new science's ability to tell 'de tief niggar from de hones niggar' and 'de fool niggar from de wisdom niggar' taken from one of John Follitt's 'Black Lectures' ridiculing the speech of black people and playing on existing prejudices against them. The Viennese physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) proposed that the contours of the skull followed the brain's shape, with each region responsible for an aspect of personality or behaviour. Feeling the lumps was like reading the mind. He called his system organology, but it later became known as phrenology, derived from the Greek word 'phren' for mind. Phrenology never achieved the status of an accredited science, although the principle that many functions are localised in the brain is now widely accepted.



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