Unit Seminar 27/01/2014

Hilary Term 2014 Seminar Series

At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford

Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt

‘Medicine and Media’
Conveners: Dr Amelia Bonea and Dr Cressida Jervis Read

Week 2 – 27 January
Christian Bonah, University of Strasbourg
Communicating Good Health: Sanitary Propaganda and Utility Films in an International perspective, 1900-1950
Historical medical films become increasingly accessible online. Despite an increasing and serious scholarly literature on medicines moving images, critical remarks about medical historian’s troubled relationship with audio-visual sources have not vanished. Still often treated as curiosities the presentation will address difficulties working with these sources and recent approaches beyond documentary film history. Using the example of a corpus (1934-1943) of Bayer image building films the presentation will first describe how Bayer established its internalized film production unit in the 1920, outline its film production, argue for and describe a relevant corpus defined as a specific set of films – image building or Wertwerbungsfilme- within the Bayer industrial film production, investigate in more detail five image building films and finally gauge screening venues asking how films in their screening practice created media events as a promotional strategy. Doing so, the presentations follows recent scholarship in the field of industrial, sponsored, non-fiction and most recently utility film that has argued convincingly that analysis of films should combine serial analysis of several films with context analysis of the production and screening of films from the sponsor’s – and not only the auteur’s or director’s- point of view.

Christian Bonah has studied medicine (MD), history and history of science (PhD) at the Universities of Strasbourg, Berlin and Freiburg. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University he has created and directed the Department for Social Studies and Humanities in Medicine and Health (DHVS) at the Medical Faculty. Christian Bonah received research grants from ANR, DFG, ESF and the EU framework program, and was junior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. He has worked on comparative history of medical education, the history of medication, as well as the history of human experimentation. Recent work includes research on risk perception and management in drug scandals and courtroom trials as well as studies on medical films.

Selected publications:

  • Cantor, D., Bonah, C., Doerries, M. (eds.) [2010], Meat, medicine and Human Health in the Twentieth Century ( London, Pickering&Chatto)
  • “Professional, Industrial and Juridical Regulation of Drugs: The 1953 Stalinon Case and Pharmaceutical Reform in Postwar France”, in Gaudillière, Jean-Paul; Hess Volker, Making Drugs. Ways of Regulating between factory, office, consulting room, and court (London, Palgrave, 2011)
  • “‘Health crusades’: Environmental approaches as public health strategies
    against infections in sanitary propaganda films, 1930 – 1960”, in Berridge, Virginia; Gorsky, Martin, Environment, Health and History, London, Palgrave Macmillan