Tag Archives: Phrenology

The Phrenology Head

20 Aug

Over the weekend, my wife was shopping, and I was wandering around the store. Suddenly, I saw it. Without hesitation, I picked it up and took it to the shopping cart. It was something that I had to have. It was a Phrenology Head.image-50

My wife immediately asked what I was going to do with it and breathed a sigh of relief when I said that I was taking it to work. I thought it would look interesting in my office and be a conversation piece. I was not wrong.

When my stepdaughter saw it, she asked what it was. I said it was a head. When I was unlocking my office door, my colleague asked what I had. I said it was a Phrenology Head. That means that most of the people who have seen it have made a comment about it. That is the definition of a conversation piece. Hopefully, my students will talk about the Phrenology Head when I take it to class.

That is the other reason I bought it. In the first semester of United States history, I talk about Phrenology and other such things from our past. In essence, it was the study of the human head. Practitioners would measure skulls and search for bumps and indentions. Different parts of the skull represented different parts of the brain. On top of that, each part of the brain controlled a different aspect of that person. A bumpy, indented skull meant one thing. A smooth skull meant another.

It was all very scientific.

My students laugh when we talk about Phrenology, and they will probably laugh when they see the Phrenology Head. However, it was serious business. The research was used to justify European superiority over other people. If you have ever seen the dining room scene in Django Unchained, then you know what I mean.

There is a Phrenology Head sitting on my desk, and I am waiting for the first student to walk into my office. Hopefully, they will ask about it. If not, then they are probably being polite to the crazy teacher who has this strange head. Of course, I am talking about the Phrenology Head. Although, I wonder what information a Phrenological study would get from my cranium.