Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (Hilary Term, Week 5)

Who? Next week’s lecture will be given by Dr Taha Yasin Arslan, who will be speaking about ‘Astronomical instrumentation as a medium for the transmission of knowledge in the Islamic world’.

What? ‘This talk examines the role of astronomical instrumentation in the transmission of mathematical knowledge within the Islamic world between the ninth and nineteenth centuries based on two main sources: extant instruments and texts. Astronomical instruments such as astrolabes and celestial globes are important information sources for they provide details on the level of knowledge, arts, and craftmanship of its time as well as traces of long-standing instrument making traditions. The engravings, parts, and types of instruments allow us to make connections between different regions and periods. Texts on instruments are also, if not more, important on mapping the transmission of knowledge. Dissemination of certain treatises on making or using instruments made the know-how widespread in the Islamic world. These texts carry ownership records, margin notes, copying information, and other relevant data that help us trace the tradition backwards. Although mapping the transmission of scientific knowledge has its challenges, detailed examination of texts and instruments together can provide a clear route. Moreover, these studies could prove important for understanding the attitude of the Islamic world towards science between the ninth and nineteenth centuries.

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 17th 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 are welcome to attend!

New Books: Human Extinction, Nightmare Factories and Sight Correction

We’ve had several new arrivals already this year, so why not grab a coffee in your KeepCup, escape from the cold and head on over to the History of Medicine Library to check out some new titles?

Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary by Christos Lynteris

‘This book develops an examination and critique of human extinction as a result of the ‘next pandemic’ and turns attention towards the role of pandemic catastrophe in the renegotiation of what it means to be human. Nested in debates in anthropology, philosophy, social theory and global health, the book argues that fear of and fascination with the ‘next pandemic’ stem not so much from an anticipation of a biological extinction of the human species, as from an expectation of the loss of mastery over human/non-human relations. Christos Lynteris employs the notion of the ‘pandemic imaginary’ in order to understand the way in which pandemic-borne human extinction refashions our understanding of humanity and its place in the world. The book challenges us to think how cosmological, aesthetic, ontological and political aspects of pandemic catastrophe are intertwined. The chapters examine the vital entanglement of epidemiological studies, popular culture, modes of scientific visualisation, and pandemic preparedness campaigns. This volume will be relevant for scholars and advanced students of anthropology as well as global health, and for many others interested in catastrophe, the ‘end of the world’ and the (post)apocalyptic.’

Nightmare Factories: The Asylum in the American Imagination by Troy Rondinone

How the insane asylum came to exert such a powerful hold on the American imagination.

Madhouse, funny farm, psychiatric hospital, loony bin, nuthouse, mental institution: no matter what you call it, the asylum has a powerful hold on the American imagination. Stark and foreboding, they symbolize mistreatment, fear, and imprisonment, standing as castles of despair and tyranny across the countryside. In the “asylum” of American fiction and film, treatments are torture, attendants are thugs, and psychiatrists are despots.

In Nightmare Factories, Troy Rondinone offers the first history of mental hospitals in American popular culture. Beginning with Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 short story “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether,” Rondinone surveys how American novelists, poets, memoirists, reporters, and filmmakers have portrayed the asylum and how those representations reflect larger social trends in the United States. Asylums, he argues, darkly reflect cultural anxieties and the shortcomings of democracy, as well as the ongoing mistreatment of people suffering from mental illness.’

Vision and Blindness in Eighteenth-Century Britain by Chris Mounsey

‘The debut publication in a new series devoted to the body as an object of historical study,  Sight Correction provides an expansive analysis of blindness in eighteenth-century Britain, developing a new methodology for conceptualizing sight impairment. Beginning with a reconsideration of the place of sight correction as both idea and reality in eighteenth-century philosophical debates, Chris Mounsey traces the development of eye surgery by pioneers such as William Read, Mary Cater, and John Taylor, who developed a new idea of medical specialism that has shaped contemporary practices. He then turns to accounts by the visually impaired themselves, exploring how Thomas Gills, John Maxwell, and Priscilla Pointon deployed literature strategically as a necessary response to the inadequacies of Poor Laws to support blind people. Situating blindness philosophically, medically, and economically in the eighteenth century, Sight Correction shows how the lives of both the blind and those who sought to treat them redefined blindness in ways that continue to inform our understanding today.’

Other titles include:

For a full list of this year’s new books, please check out our LibraryThing page. If you would like to consult any of these titles and more, then feel free to visit us at 45 Banbury Road! We are open most weekday afternoons from 2.15pm until 5pm (4.30pm on Wednesdays), but do check our weekly blog posts for up-to-date opening hours. If you haven’t visited the History of Medicine Library before, then please email us at historyofmedicine@bodleian.ox.ac.uk in to organise your first visit. See you soon!

Opening hours: 10th – 14th February

Next week, the History of Medicine Library will be staffed:

Monday 10th: 2.15pm-5pm
Tuesday 11th: 
2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday 12th: 
2.15pm-4.30pm
Thursday 13th: 
2.15pm-5pm
Friday 14th: 
2.15pm-5pm

The Library’s books on the history of medicine are available to search on SOLO, or you can view our newest arrivals on LibraryThing! New readers are always welcome; if you would like to visit please contact us by email or phone to arrange your appointment.

Have a splendid weekend!

Plague doctor. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (Hilary Term, Week 4)

Who? Next week’s lecture will be given by Dr Catherine Kelly, who will be speaking about ‘Medicine, Law, and the Lash: Militarized Medicine and Corporal Punishment in the Australian Colonies 1788-1850′.

What? ‘The service of medical practitioners in the early Australian colonies was inextricably bound up with a heavily militarized culture. This paper explores the relationships between those medical practitioners, legal punishment, and the British Empire in the first half of the nineteenth century. The service of medical practitioners in the Australian colonies, coming as it did so close on the heels of two generations of war, gives us an important insight into the effects of the Napoleonic wars both upon the practice of medicine in the service of the British State, and also the State’s attitude to the use of medical expertise. In the military spaces of transport and colony, the medical officer became an important lynchpin in the discipline and control exercised over convict bodies. Military medical expertise was useful to the State in understanding the best ways to discomfort and hurt convicts, without quite killing them. This expertise was further cultivated by the State in the ongoing design of the medical role in the colonies that came to hark forward to the prison officer of the later nineteenth century whose position, balanced precariously between punishment and care, has been of such interest to penologists and medical historians.

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 10th 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 are welcome to attend!

Opening hours: 3rd – 7th February

Next week, the History of Medicine Library will be staffed:

Monday 3rd: 2.15pm-5pm
Tuesday 4th: 
2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday 5th: 
2.15pm-4.30pm
Thursday 6th: 
2.15pm-5pm
Friday 7th: 
2.15pm-5pm

The Library’s books on the history of medicine are available to search on SOLO, or you can view our newest arrivals on LibraryThing! New readers are always welcome; if you would like to visit please contact us by email or phone to arrange your appointment.

Have a splendid weekend!

Catalogue of Printed Books in the Wellcome Library. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

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!

Opening hours: 27th – 31st January

Next week, the History of Medicine Library will be staffed:

Monday 27th: CLOSED as we will be attending the Postgraduate Humanities Research Fair. There is still time to book – see the booking page!
Tuesday 28th: 
2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday 29th: 
2.15pm-4.30pm
Thursday 30th: 
2.15pm-5pm
Friday 31st: 
2.15pm-5pm

The Library’s books on the history of medicine are available to search on SOLO, or you can view our newest arrivals on LibraryThing! New readers are always welcome; if you would like to visit please contact us by email or phone to arrange your appointment.

Have a splendid weekend!

Medical equipment. Credit: Paul Griggs. CC BY

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

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (Hilary Term, Week 2)

Who? This lecture will be given by Dr Taline Garibian.

What? ‘Proving violence: forensics and war crimes during the First World War’

Where? History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When? Monday 27th 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!

Opening hours: 20th – 24th January

Next week, the History of Medicine Library will be staffed:

Monday 20th: 2.15pm-5pm
Tuesday 21st: 
2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday 22nd: 
2.15pm-4.30pm
Thursday 23rd: 
2.15pm-5pm
Friday 24th: 
2.15pm-5pm

The Library’s books on the history of medicine are available to search on SOLO, or you can view our newest arrivals on LibraryThing! New readers are always welcome; if you would like to visit please contact us by email or phone to arrange your appointment.

Have a splendid weekend!

Warwick Mechanics Institution Perambulating Library. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY