Lifting the Flap

Anatomical pop-up books, introduced in the 16th century, took anatomy out of the lecture hall and into the home. 

Anatomical fugitive sheet, female. Wellcome Collection.
Anatomical fugitive sheet, female. Wellcome Collection.

We think of reading as a primarily mental activity. Medieval and early modern audiences saw reading as a physical activity as well. They did not just turn the pages of their manuscripts. They wrote in the margins, underlined and annotated, used blank spaces for recipes and handwriting practice, kissed religious images and copied out quotations. Pop-up science texts evoke a period when reading always meant physical engagement, and remind us that reading was – and still is – a physical, interactive experience. 

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.