Tag Archives: TORCH

TORCH: Consulting by letter: The sad case of Mme de la Buretière

Professor Laurence Brockliss will give paper entitled ‘Consulting by letter: The sad case of Mme de la Buretière’ at the next session of the TORCH Enlightenment Correspondences Network, to be held on Thursday, 12 February (Fourth Week), from 12.30 til 2, at Ertegun House (37A St. Giles’).

Consulting by letter was commonplace in the eighteenth century and several collections survive which contain the patient’s original communication as well as the doctor’s advice. Such letters are a good way in to understanding how better off men and women thought and talked about their bodies. The paper will begin by saying something about the genre in general, then concentrate on the exchange in 1724-5 between Mme de la Buretière of Chateaudun and the Parisian physician and academician, Etienne-Francois Geoffroy.

***Please RSVP to enlightenmentcorr@gmail.com by Friday, 6 February, if you plan to attend, to help us get an accurate count for the free lunch and cater to any special dietary requirements.****

TORCH: one-day interdisciplinary workshop on Reading and Replicating Bodies

Reading and Replicating Bodies:
Mimicry in Medicine and Culture, 1790-1914
26th March 2015
10.45-18.00 (registration from 9.45)

In the Nineteenth century, to read a body was to replicate it. From making
anatomical drawings to designing prosthetics, medical practices duplicated human tissue
on an unprecedented scale. Yet this urge to copy was also tainted, and literary depictions
of scientists – from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau –
cast the desire to replicate a living body as absorbing and abhorrent in turn.
Replication was also an important topic in the era’s sciences of mind. Writers
such as Charles Bell, Charles Darwin and James Mark Baldwin, depicted humans as
mirrors, believing an innate compulsion to imitate could explain the development of
sympathy (later empathy) language and laws. Yet, here imitation was also problematic,
framed as a primitive impulse, most violently displayed by the period’s ‘othered’ bodies:
hysterics, non-Europeans, women, the deaf and the degenerate.
This workshop will explore how Victorian science, medicine and the arts
interacted to construct the body as an object and subject of imitation. It will consider
how much of today’s ambivalence about replicating bodies – from ethical questions
about cloning to the much-hyped concept of ‘mirror neurons’ – do we owe to practices
and concepts from the Nineteenth century.

* Registration is free, but booking is essential as places are limited. *
* Postgraduate Bursaries Available*

Organised by Dr Will Abberley (Oxford) and Dr Tiffany Watt Smith (QMUL)

SPEAKERS include
Christopher Pittard (University of Portsmouth): ‘V for Ventriloquism: Powers of Vocal
Mimicry in Henry Cockton’s Valentine Vox’.
Tiziana Morosetti (University of Oxford): ‘Exotic Bodies on the 19th-century British
Stage: Empire in Miniature’.
Louise Lee (University of Roehampton), ‘Re-reading the Scientist as Specimen: Edward
Lear, the Fugitive Poets and the Politics of Whimsy’.
Carolyn Burdett (Birkbeck, University of London), ‘Mimicry, Motor Types and
Memory: Vernon Lee and Aesthetic Empathy’.
Angie Dustan (University of Kent) ‘Reading Sculptural Replication: Authentic Bodies in
Victorian Literature’.

Two postgraduate bursaries are available to cover the costs of travel to and from Oxford
and one-night’s accommodation. To apply, please email the organisers with a brief bio
and personal statement (max 400 words) explaining why you should receive a bursary
before the deadline of Friday the 27th February 2015. Preference will be given to
applicants whose research interests align with the workshop theme and those who will
have further to travel.
The workshop is free to attend, but spaces are limited. To reserve a place, please book a
ticket at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reading-and-replicating-bodies-mimicry-inmedicine-
Seminar Room, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), Radcliffe
Humanities Building, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2
6GG. http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/
For more information, please contact the organisers:
Dr Will Abberley, william.abberley@ell.ox.ac.uk
Dr Tiffany Watt Smith, t.k.watt-smith@qmul.ac.uk

TORCH Humanities and Science: In Conversation

Humanities and Science: In Conversation
TORCH Annual Headline Series 2015

michelangeloHow can musicians use concepts about randomness from physicists to enrich their compositions? How far is the image showing a patient’s brain scan an aesthetic choice made by the clinician? How can humanities scholars and policy makers help engineers to explore the potential social and cultural impact of their innovations?

This series of panel discussions will exploring how points of methodological conversions across disciplines can be used to address current research questions.


All seminars will take place from 13:00 – 14:00 (with lunch available from 12:45) at the Radcliffe Humanities Building on Woodstock Road.

27 January | Mental Health (Speakers from: Psychiatry, Literature, Theology)
10 February | Randomness and Order (Physics, Music, Statistics & History)
24 February | Representing Science (English, Art, Neuroscience & History of Art)
9 March | Culture and Technology (Languages, Zoology, Engineering & Classics)

For more information about the Humanities and Science programme, please visit www.torch.ox.ac.uk/humsciox. For other upcoming events and funding opportunities this term, you can read TORCH’s termly newsletter here: http://544f9688d9b29.mailerlite.com/h2n9e5.



Infectious Disease and the Therapeutic Revolution 1930-1970 (Leverhulme Lecture)

‘An Unnatural History: The Re-Emergence of Infectious Disease in the 20th Century’

Presented by Professor Christoph Gradmann, University of Oslo
Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Wellcome Unit for the history of Medicine, Oxford

These lectures will be hosted at
TORCH – The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
Radcliffe Humanities Seminar Room
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford

Hilary Term 8th Week
Wednesday 12 March
16:00    Infectious Disease and the Therapeutic Revolution 1930-1970
This lecture approaches the history of drug therapies of infectious diseases from 1935-1980 as a succession of three waves of innovation. The first of these is the arrival of sulpha drugs from 1935. These were the product of a mature industry which could quickly mass-produce such substances. Relevant phenomena that we associate with fungal antibiotics such as the standardisation of treatment or the arrival of drug resistant strains were in fact present in application of sulphas already. By contrast, fungal antibiotics which arrived from 1941 came part and parcel with a new type of industry, fermentation on industrial scale. They also paved the way for new – mostly American – players on the drug market. Their prestige as wonder cures rested not just on their efficacy but on their marketing under war time conditions.
The third wave, ensuing around 1960, was one that took anti-infective medicines from disease driven to marketing driven drug development, defining new pathologies and markets such as hospital infections and resistant bacteria.

Trinity Term 3rd Week
Thursday 15 May
17:00    Stalking Microbes: Antibiotic Resistance, Nosocomial Infections and the Demise of the Modern Hospital 1950-1990
Trinity Term 6th Week
Thursday 5 June
17:00    The Return of Natural History: Re-Emerging Infections, the End of Antibiotics and New Public Health

All are welcome.