Severed | Granta

  • Published: 01/10/2015
  • ISBN: 9781783780563
  • 129x20mm
  • 336 pages

Severed

Frances Larson

Our history is littered with heads. Over the centuries, they have decorated our churches, festooned our city walls and filled our museums; they have been props for artists and specimens for laboratory scientists, trophies for soldiers and items of barter. Today, as videos of decapitations circulate online and cryonicists promise that our heads may one day live on without our bodies, the severed head is as contentious and compelling as ever.

From shrunken heads to trophies of war; from memento mori to Damien Hirst’s With Dead Head; from grave-robbing phrenologists to enterprising scientists, Larson explores the bizarre, often gruesome and confounding history of the severed head. Its story is our story.

Fascinating... lively, original, important, astounding, well-written: first class in every way

Sunday Times

Wonderfully original... a splendid example of plotting a new brand of history that cuts through conventional categories of science, literature and art

Richard Fortey 'Book of the year

Severed is clever, startling, profoundly informative, delightfully gruesome... Larson writes like an angel

John Simpson

The Author

Dr Frances Larson is an honorary research fellow in anthropology at Durham University. She is the author of a biography of Henry Wellcome, An Infinity of Things (OUP, 2009), which was part-funded by a Wingate Scholarship. The book was published to considerable critical acclaim and was subsequently shortlisted for the MJA Awards and chosen as a Sunday Times Book of The Year, as well as a New Scientist Best Book of 2009. She is also the co-author of Knowing Things (OUP, 2007), a book on the history of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, where she worked as a researcher after receiving her D.Phil.

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