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Tra medicalizzazione e collezionismo. Le pratiche ottocentesche sulla scrittura viste attraverso la collezione di autografi dei devianti del Museo di Antropologia criminale “Cesare Lombroso”

Federica Merlo


The collection of handwritten letters, manuscripts and documents of the deviants gathered by Cesare Lombroso during the second half of the Nineteenth century is shown at congresses and temporary exhibitions attended by the international scientific community. It is also permanently displayed at Turin’s Museum of Criminal Anthropology, founded by the positivist scientist. A great part of the materials originate from Lombroso's direct engagement with collectors, scholars and colleagues from the field, specifically in relation to two Nineteenth-century phenomena - the medicalisation of writing and autograph collecting. The mutual relationship between the two practices is validated by various studies and publications. Among them, the book Grafologia, written by Lombroso in 1895, purports that the writings of criminals, the alienated and geniuses can be compared and investigated using graphological science.