Andrews Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies in The John V. Roach Honors College, Texas Christian University

Sharrona Pearl is a historian and theorist of the body and face.  She has explored the face in a number of articles and three monographs: About Faces: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Harvard University Press, 2010); Face/On: Face Transplants and the Ethics of the Other (University of Chicago Press, 2017); Do I Know You: From Face Blindness to Super Recognition (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2023); and Mask (Bloomsbury Academic, 2024). Pearl is the editor of Images, Ethics, Technology (Routledge, 2016), a volume in the Shaping Inquiry in Culture, Communication and Media Studies series, and a special issue of Notes and Records on “face blindness” (December 2022). She is currently working on two projects: one on the failures of empathy, and one on the pathological breast. Other areas of interest include the health humanities; visual culture; critical race, gender, and disability studies; media studies, science and performance; plastic surgery; AI ethics, and the ethics of display.  She is the co-editor, with Colleen Derkatch, of a series on Health Humanities with Johns Hopkins University Press.

Even as they conceal and protect, masks – as faces – are an extension of the self. At the same time, they are a part of material culture: what are masks made of? What traces do they leave behind?  Sharrona Pearl looks at the politics of the mask, exploring how identity itself is read on this object, helping us to better understand what it is we value. A fascinating history of how we recognize faces―or fail to recognize them.  In Do I Know You? Sharrona Pearl explores the fascinating category of face recognition and the “the face recognition spectrum,” which ranges from face blindness at one end to super recognition at the other.  Pearl tells a nuanced story of how we relate to each other through our faces. Are our identities attached to our faces? If so, what happens when the face connected to the self is gone forever—or replaced? In Face/On, Sharrona Pearl investigates the stakes for changing the face–and the changing stakes for the face—in both contemporary society and the sciences.

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 When nineteenth-century Londoners looked at each other, what did they see, and how did they want to be seen? Sharrona Pearl reveals the way that physiognomy, the study of facial features and their relationship to character, shaped the way that people understood one another and presented themselves. This volume is a rendering of both theory and practice in the history and narrative of neurology, facial difference, autism, face blindness and traumatic brain injury. The essays offer deep analytic insights but also a provocation: how do we frame individual cases and lived experience in the literature of neurodiversity?  Who speaks for the art in a museum? What does it mean that the revamping of Facebook’s photo features coincided with the demise of Kodak and Polaroid? What do photos of wind and wind power in Kansas tell us about the changing power dynamics there?