Visualizing the Invisible Wound: Graphic Medicine and the History of War Trauma

Matthew Barrett

Award: 2023 Post-Doctoral Fellowship

Matthew’s project titled “Visualizing the Invisible Wound”examines the historical representations of war trauma using a methodology that combines graphic history and graphic medicine. As an historian and an artist, Matthew is interested in exploring graphic and illustrated storytelling as creative forms of historical interpretation and analysis.The idea of an invisible wound in contrast to a physical one refers to the difficulties associated with accurate diagnosis as well as to the silences and stigmas historically attributed to mental illness. A research-creation approach that visualizes the circumstances and contexts behind such wounds can represent war trauma from multiple perspectives in ways that emphasize its subjective expressions. Studying the history of medicine through a graphic format challenge us to critically evaluate what we read as well as what we see. Evocative images and visual storytelling convey messages and meanings that words alone cannot always express.