Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology- Week 7

Dr Jessica Meyer (University of Leeds): ‘Medicos, bandage wallahs and knights of the Red Cross: masculinity and military medicine in Britain in the era of the First World War.’

Abstract: ‘Histories of gender and medical caregiving in the First World War have tended to be dominated by studies of female nurses on the one hand, and gender implications of war impairments for the male body on the other.  Male medical caregivers are often overlooked as gendered actors in their own right. In this paper, I will examine the medical care provided by the men of the RAMC, whether doctors, stretcher bearers or nursing orderlies, through the prism of their identities as non-combatant servicemen in wartime. In doing so, I will argue that the masculine identities of these men encompassed competing narratives which nuance our understanding of both military and medical identities in the era of the First World War.’

Where: History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When: TODAY, Monday 20th November at 4pm. Tea and coffee will be available from 15:30 in the Common Room.

Seminars convened by Professor Rob Iliffe, Dr Sloan Mahone, Dr Erica Charters, Dr Roderick Bailey and Dr Atsuko Naono of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford.
More information about this term’s seminars can be found here.

 

Opening hours w/b 20th November

Our opening hours next week will be:

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday: 2pm- 4.30pm
Friday: CLOSED

If you’d like to visit the library, please contact us in advance.

We wish you a lovely weekend!

Original image: L0002463 Hippocrates, Aphorismi, manuscript.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Imagesimages@wellcome.ac.uk; http://wellcomeimages.org
Miniature painting, portrait of Hippocrates sitting, reading. Behind, two standing philosophers dispute. Opening illustration from a late fifteenth century manuscript of the Aphorisms in Latin translation. Miniature, late 15th century Aphorismi Hippocrates
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Shelf Selection: Medicine and Literature

Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts showing off the collections of the Wellcome Unit Library, Oxford!
Being interdisciplinary in nature, the history of medicine offers fascinating opportunities to view disease and medical treatment through time in various social and cultural contexts. This means that although we are a small and specialised library, our books come under a wide range of subject classifications, from BL (religion) to U (military science), via JC (political theory).
In this week’s shelf selection we have a variety of books which link medicine with literary works:

Melancholy, Medicine and Religion in Early Modern England– Mary Ann Lund (PR2224 LUN 2010)

Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) is an essential text for understanding early modern attitudes to illness and cure. Melancholy was understood as an ailment of body and soul, and Burton suggested that the experience of reading about the condition in his book could have curative powers. Mary Ann Lund argues that Burton’s approach has a lot to tell us about the history of reading and the relationships between reader, author and text. Looking at the diverse influences behind Burton’s conviction, including early modern medical writings, she presents Anatomy as a literary, medical and religious text which defies easy categorisation.

Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film
Jennifer Cooke
(PN56.P5 COO 2009)

This study begins with an overview of plague-writing classics by Daniel Defoe and Albert Camus, and goes on to trace the survival of plague as a metaphor and cultural phenomenon beyond the last major European epidemics and into the twentieth century. Cooke finds echoes of the disease across theatre, politics and media, including anti-Semitic rhetoric, Freudian psychoanalysis and George A. Romero’s zombie films. For a collection of earlier historical and literary accounts of plague, see also Rebecca Totaro (ed.) The Plague in Print: Essential Elizabethan Sources 1558-1603 (PR1125.P53 PLA 2010)

Disease and Death in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture– eds. Allan Ingram and Leigh Wetherall Dickson (PR448.D57 DIS 2016)

Originating in a collaborative research project by members of the Universities of Northumbria and Newcastle, this edited volume reads literary works by writers such as Maria Edgeworth and Jonathan Swift alongside medical books, letters and diaries, to consider how people ‘fashioned’, or ascribed meaning to, diseases and causes of death in this period. A distinction can be observed in 18th century society between ‘fashionable’ and ‘unfashionable’ diseases (consumption and ‘ennui’ were generally listed in the former category, plague and smallpox in the latter), and literary works played a role in creating, reinforcing and subverting these categories.

Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in
Victorian Culture
– Martha Stoddard Holmes

(PR468.P35.S76 STO 2004)

Part of the ‘Corporealities: Discourses of Disability’ series, this book links the prevalence of characters with disabilities in Victorian fiction to a wider cultural trend of melodramatic representation of disability, also seen among doctors and educators, and asks what this can tell us about 19th century society and culture. Holmes’s study looks at writers including Charles Dickens (who used the character of Tiny Tim as a sentimentalized shortcut for his message of charity and social justice), Wilkie Collins, Dinah Craik and Charlotte Younge, alongside other sources from the same period including autobiographical accounts from people with disabilities.

Hardy the Physician: Medical Aspects of the Wessex Tradition– Tony Fincham (PR4754 FIN 2008)

Using evidence of Thomas Hardy’s own experience and understanding of physical and mental illness, Tony Fincham reviews the place of illness and medicine in Hardy’s fiction, making particular reference to the GP protagonist of The Woodlanders, Dr Edred Fitzpiers. Fincham highlights Hardy’s ‘consistent and continuous forefronting of psychological factors in the aetiology of illness’ (p.117), concluding that Hardy favoured a holistic, emotionally aware approach to medical matters.


If you would like to consult any of the books held in the Wellcome Unit Library, contact us to arrange your visit!

Opening hours w/b 13th November

Our opening hours next week will be:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday: 2pm-4.30pm

If you would like to arrange your visit to the library, please contact us by email or phone.

Original image: L0006437 Skeleton, watercolour drawing by Persian artist, 19th C
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk; http://wellcomeimages.org
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology- Week 6, 13th November

Speaker: Andrew Lea (University of Oxford)

Title: Computers, Material Culture, and the Definitions of Disease

Abstract: In 1947, the Cornell psychiatrist Keeve Brodman and a handful of colleagues began developing what would become one of the most widely used health questionnaires of its time—the Cornell Medical Index (CMI). A rigidly standardised form, the CMI presented 195 yes-no questions designed to capture the health status of ‘the total patient’. Over the following decades, Brodman’s project of standardising medical history taking gradually evolved into a project of mathematising and computerising diagnosis: out of the CMI grew the Medical Data Screen (MDS), an early computerised method of deriving diagnoses from patient data. At the same time Brodman was beginning to work towards the MDS, another research team, headed by the television pioneer Vladimir Zworykin, was developing a computer program that they hoped would make accurate diagnoses in the field of hematology. This talk examines these two early efforts to computerise diagnosis as entry points into a larger discussion of the role of computers in shaping our definitions—and ultimately our experience—of disease.

Where?: History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

When?: Monday 13th November at 16.00. Tea and coffee will be available from 15.30 in the Common Room.

Seminars convened by Professor Rob Iliffe, Dr Sloan Mahone, Dr Erica Charter, Dr Roderick Bailey and Dr Atsuko Naono of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford.
More information about this term’s seminars can be found here.

Opening hours w/b 6th November

Our opening hours next week will be:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday: 2pm- 4.30pm

Please contact us if you would like to arrange your visit to the library. Have a lovely weekend!

(Original Image- L0029760 Lithographed song sheet cover: ‘The Quack’s Song’
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images- images@wellcome.ac.uk; http://wellcomeimages.org
Lithographed song sheet cover: ‘The Quack’s Song’ composed by F. C. Burnand and W. Meyer Lutz. Lithograph, circa 1900 By: Stannard & Son)

Opening hours w/b 30th October

Our opening hours for next week are:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 2.15pm-5pm
Wednesday: 2pm-4.30pm

Please contact us to arrange your visit to the library. We wish you a lovely weekend!

L0014856 Portrait of James Curry
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk; http://wellcomeimages.org
Portrait of James Curry, reading at lecturn, with library behind
Line engraving, 1819 By: I. Millsafter: F. SimonauPublished: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/