Category Archives: Talks & events

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (Hilary Term, Week 3)

Who? Next week’s lecture will be given by Professor Marilyn Nicoud, who will be speaking about ‘Some aspects of patient-doctor relationships in the Middle Ages: Consilia and Regimina sanitatis, a kind of individualised medicine’.

What? ‘Historical and sociological studies have often examined patient-doctor relationships in terms of power. If today medical power is being called into question, because of legalisation of patient-practitioner relationships and because of the weight of patient associations, a lot of studies have shown that with the arrival of clinical medicine and the medicalisation of hospitals, medical discourse has imposed its power and reduced the free will of patients. This intervention proposes to examine the medieval situation and, in particular, the development of what could be interpreted as a kind of personalised medicine. It is part of a collaborative project aimed at producing a book about these relationships, studied from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century. With the progressive development of a doctrine and efforts to regulate medical practice, special texts were produced from the 13th century onwards: the writing of therapeutic consilia and regimina sanitatis has resulted in an impressive number of texts, distributed by a large number of manuscripts and editions. Often written by the medical ‘elite’ for specific people, these texts propose a kind of personalised medicine, mediated by writing, that also corresponds to particular forms of relationships, which could be described as negotiated or even, in a way, contractualised.

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 3rd February 2020, 16:00.

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!

Humanities Research Fair 2020

The Humanities Research Fair will now be taking place on Monday 27th January 2020!

At the Fair you can learn about resources you may not yet have yet considered and meet the curators of collections who can guide you towards relevant material or useful finding tools. Over 40 stalls will cover many areas:

  • Special collections (archives & early printed books, maps, museums)
  • Topical stalls (e.g. resources for English literature, Theology, History, Modern Languages, Biography)
  • Geographical stalls (e.g. US studies, Latin American, Far & Near Eastern, European)
  • General resources (e.g. Information skills, Open Access, Digital Humanities, Top 10 Tips from a Graduate)
  • Take part in live historical printing with the Centre for the Study of the Book
  • Relax with a cup of tea at the Student Wellbeing stall and try your hand at fiendish Bodleian jigsaw puzzle

Book your place here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/humanities-research-fair-registration-84117187773

McGovern Lecture on the History of Medicine – ‘A Medical Commander In Rwanda 1994: Stabling The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse’

Who? Major General Professor Alan Hawley CBE will be speaking about ‘A Medical Commander In Rwanda 1994: Stabling The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse’.

He ‘studied medicine at the University of Birmingham and then joined the British Army as a doctor. His military experience included the command of the Parachute Medical Regiment and operational experience in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was the medical commander in most of these deployments which made him the most operationally experienced British Army Medical Commander since the Second World War. He completed 34 years of service and left in 2009 to take up a Professorial appointment in Disaster Studies. He is currently settling into academic life again as a theology undergraduate at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford.’

What? ‘In 1994 the world witnessed one of the most devastating episodes of genocide ever perpetrated. The United Kingdom deployed a force of 650 to be part of the United Nations response to the disaster. This lecture will feature the experience of Alan Hawley as the medical commander of the British contingent. He will offer a personal view of the politics, realities and ethics of the situation in Rwanda. He will cover the change in the situation from murder and lawlessness to a more stable state of equilibrium and touch on the human cost of the deployment.

Where? Green Templeton College.

When? Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 18:00.

For more information and to register, please visit https://www.gtc.ox.ac.uk/eventbrite-event/mcgovern-lecture-on-the-history-of-medicine/

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (Hilary Term, Week 1)

Who? This term’s first lecture will be given by Dr Michael Finn, who will be speaking about ‘Self-help and psychology’.

What? ‘Self-help literature proliferates today, on bookshelves and online, providing guidance and knowledge for people looking to improve their lives, careers and mental health. The origins of the genre have been traced as far back as antiquity, but it was in the 19th century, in the works of authors such as George Combe and Samuel Smiles, that the publication of self-help works gained mass popular appeal. This growth in self-help literature, amongst other things, accompanied the development of scientific theories of mind, and the rise of psychology as a distinct discipline in the Western World.

In this talk, I wish to look at the historical relationship between psychology and self-help from the 19th century onwards, asking to what extent theories of mind have underpinned self-help advice, how these have changed over time, and what lessons historians can take from this story.’

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 20th January 2020, 16:00.

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology – Week 8, 2nd December

Who? This term’s final lecture will be given by Dr Bénédicte Prot (Oxford and Swiss National Science Foundation), who will be speaking about ‘Putting medicine and literature in dialogue: the case of the French doctor Jean-Louis Alibert (1768-1837)’.

What? ‘Jean-Louis Alibert (1768-1837) remains a famous French physician, clinician, professor and dermatologist at Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris in the early 19th century. Focused on his life, work and posterity, this talk deals with Alibert’s early poems and explores his literary network, including his role of mentor for poets. It also examines Alibert’s printed texts and their reception. Here the style of the doctor-writer is crucial not only for medical writing but also for questioning fame, recognition, disqualification and image of the great doctor. This case study thus emphasizes different types of interactions and some tensions between literature and medicine during the first decades of the 19th century in France. More broadly, it aims to contribute to an interdisciplinary and cultural history of medicine and physicians.’

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 2nd December 2019, 16:00.

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology – Week 7, 25th November

UPDATE: This lecture has been cancelled due to UCU strike action.

Who? Next Monday’s seminar will be given by Dr Jacob Ward, who will be speaking about ‘Thatcherism and the Information Age: How the British Telecom Infrastructure Changed Politics’.

What? ‘In 1984, Margaret Thatcher privatised British Telcom for almost £4 billion, then the largest stock flotation in history. BT’s sale popularised privatisation as a key neoliberal policy in Britain and around the world, showing that governments could successfully sell their national infrastructures to the private sector.

This paper argues that BT’s history cannot simply be understood as an example of politicians transforming infrastructure, but instead shows how information technology has mediated political change. I begin by using institutional sociology and infrastructure studies to argue that political change, like technological change, is not a linear process from idea to action, but instead one that is shaped by infrastructure and institutions like British Telecom.

I show this through a history of how telecom engineers and managers computerized and digitalized BT’s network to protect its monopoly for Britain’s ‘second industrial revolution’, complicating BT’s move from public to private. I conclude by considering how, as infrastructure mediates radical political change, we can approach infrastructure ownership and development for today’s supposed ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 25th November 2019, 16:00.

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology – Week 6, 18th November

Who? Next Monday’s seminar will be given by Dr Simon Mays, who will be speaking about ‘Humanising the past: the case of the skeletons from Stonehenge’.

What? ‘Archaeology lies at the interface between the sciences and the humanities, drawing on traditions of both. In the study human skeletal remains (ostearchaeology), theoretical as well as methodological approaches from the sciences have become dominant. This had led to a narrowing of the discipline. Testing of hypotheses using statistical analyses of large data sets has come to be regarded as the main and, in the eyes of some, the only valid way of conducting osteoarchaeology. In recent years this has begun to be questioned. There is a rise in an osteoarchaeology in which the focus is not on patterns at a population level but rather the construction of narratives of lives of individuals from their skeletons. Such approaches were arguably stimulated by the need to use scientific analyses to present osteoarchaeology to the public in an engaging way. However, the rise of this ‘osteobiographical’ approach may also signal a theoretical realignment in which concepts from the humanities are once again perceived as providing a fruitful basis for osteoarchaeological enquiry. As ever, the difficulty lies in reconciling these ‘two cultures’ in a fruitful way. I will illustrate these points with a study of the osteobiographies of some skeletons from Stonehenge.’

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 18th November 2019, 16:00.

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology – Week 4, 4th November

UPDATE: Please note the below lecture has now been cancelled. 

Happy Halloween! November is (spookily) almost upon us, so here are the details for the first November lecture…

Who? Next Monday’s seminar will be given by Dr Caitjan Gainty (King’s College London), who will be speaking about ‘Dissecting “Diegelman” (1945): Film, Medicine and the Cinematic Oeuvre of Kurt Goldstein’.

What? ‘This talk uses as an entry point into the discussion of medical cinema the neurological films of Kurt Goldstein, the psychiatrist/neurologist who, like many of his medical colleagues in the first half of the twentieth century, saw the new technology of motion pictures as potentially capable of totally transforming how medicine was done. In exploring what film meant in particular for neurology, the talk will review the movement of cinema into neurologic contexts and explore both the ‘fitness’ of film for neurologic work and the larger cultural and scientific contexts that helped to make motion pictures medically meaningful in the first place.’

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 4th November 2019, 16:00.

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology – Week 3, 28th October

Who? Next Monday’s seminar will be given by Dr Leonardo Ariel Carrió Cataldi, who will be speaking about ‘Instruments of early modern Iberian empires: towards a critical history of globalisation’.

What? ‘My paper will present the first outputs of a new project which tackles the crucial but unexamined tension between measuring and orientation tools used by Europe’s Old Regime societies – which bear a strong local and regional stamp – and the universal expansionist ambitions of their empires. Situated at the crossroad of history of science and technology and intellectual and social approaches, for the occasion of the HSMT seminar, I will select some significant case studies, from a wide range of sources (navigational instruments, travelogues, maps, clocks, calendars and nautical and cosmographical treatises) related to the Iberian world and its early modern territorial expansion in a comparative approach with other empires.’

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 28th October 2019, 16:00.

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology – Week 2, 21st October

Next Monday’s seminar will be given by Emeritus Professor Peter Cryle & Dr Elizabeth Stephens (University of Queensland), who will be speaking about ‘Normality: measuring practices and devices’.

‘During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there emerged a set of practices that served to produce knowledge about populations. One of the key ways in which this was done was by measuring human bodies. That is how, before engaging in battle, conscripts to Napoleon’s army made a contribution to the state by the compulsory provision of their measurements, as they effectively became, not just cannon fodder, but fodder for statistical knowledge. Once aggregated and averaged, their measurements could serve a range of governmental purposes, including the study of regional differences in nutrition and hygiene, as well as hypotheses about “racial” differences within and between regions. A version of this general story of governmental normalisation can be found in the work of Michel Foucault. But summary accounts of normalisation indebted to Foucault tend to neglect what he saw as a double movement whereby a dynamic of homogenisation was accompanied by a dynamic of individuation and differentiation. A conceptual bridge between these two kinds of normalisation, and a way of understanding their interdependence, can be provided by studying the historical emergence of standard clothing sizes, which served both to produce and to manage individuality.’

When? Monday 21st October 2019, 16:00.

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

This lecture has been organised by the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as part of the Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology series.

All welcome to attend!