Frank Gonzalez-Crussi

Frank Gonzalez-Crussi is Professor Emeritus of Pathology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, where he specialized in pediatric pathology. He is the author of 22 books in both English and Spanish, including The Body Fantastic (MIT Press).

  • The Language of the Face

    Stories of Its Uniquely Expressive Features

    Frank Gonzalez-Crussi

    A broad and riveting cultural history of physiognomy, exploring how the desire to divine deeper meaning from our looks has compelled humans for millennia.

    How do you read a face? For thousands of years, artists, philosophers, and scientists have explored the question of what our outer appearance might reveal about our inner selves. In The Language of the Face, a marvelously comprehensive exploration of the pseudoscience of physiognomy, Frank Gonzalez-Crussi considers over a millennium's worth of primary sources to paint a splendid portrait of the face's cultural symbology.

    Gonzalez-Crussi, an acclaimed pathologist and writer, transcends disciplines with a singular balance of depth and levity. Blending literary analysis of both ancient and modern texts with the insights of medical anthropology, his narrative ranges from an investigation into “nasal semiotics”—a subject whose legacy persists most destructively in myths of racial typology—to equally astute analyses of the thrills of the erotic kiss, the diagnostic art of astrology, and the enlightening qualities of supposed ugliness. While our appearances may ultimately be no more than surface-level signifiers of identity, Gonzalez-Crussi's work is anything but superficial in its treatment of the consummately human urge to find profound meaning amidst seemingly arbitrary attributes. As rigorously researched as it is wildly entertaining, The Language of the Face is a vibrant contribution to both the emerging field of medical humanities and the popular understanding of aesthetics and physiology at large.

    • Hardcover $29.95
  • The Body Fantastic

    The Body Fantastic

    Frank Gonzalez-Crussi

    The body in dreams, myths, legends, and anecdotes of the fantastic as expressions of human corporeality.

    In The Body Fantastic, Frank Gonzalez-Crussi looks at the human body through the lens of dreams, myths, legends, and anecdotes of the bizarre, exploring the close connection of the fictitious and the fabulous to our conception of the body. He chronicles, among other curious cases, the man who ate everything (including boiled hedgehogs and mice on toast), the therapeutic powers of saliva, hair that burst into flames, and an “amphibian man” who lived under water. Drawing on clinical records, popular lore, and art, history, and literature, Gonzalez-Crussi considers the body in both real and imaginary dimensions.

    Myths and stories, Gonzalez-Crussi reminds us, are the symbolic expression of our aspirations and emotions. These fantastic tales of bodies come from the deepest regions of the human psyche. Ancient Greeks, for example, believed that the uterus wandered around inside a woman's body—an “animal within an animal.” If a woman sniffed an unpleasant odor, the uterus would retreat. Organized “digestive excess” began with the eating and drinking contests of antiquity and continues through the hot-dog eating competitions of today. And the “libido-podalic association,” connecting male sexuality and the foot, insinuated itself into mainstream medicine in the sixteenth century; meanwhile, the feet of women in some cultures were scrupulously kept from view. Gonzalez-Crussi shows that the many imaginary representations of the body are very much a part of our corporeality.

    • Hardcover $29.95