Author Archives: bjenkins

So long, farewell…

Today our Library Assistant for the past two years, Mary, leaves the unit library for a new job as Senior Library Assistant with our colleagues at the Radcliffe Camera! We are incredibly sad to lose her cheery and helpful presence around the library, but wish her all the best in her new post – we’re sure she will be fantastic!A wife sending her husband away on holiday in order to pursue an affair with a "nerve specialist" who has got the husband out of the way by recommending a change of scene for him. Colour process print, c. 1920.

Extended Christmas Closure for essential maintenance work

From Friday 7th December to Monday 14th January, the library will be closed to allow essential maintenance work to take place. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our readers, but look forward to re-opening in the New Year in better health than ever!

Meanwhile, other History of Medicine resources can be found at :
Radcliffe Science Library http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/science
Bodleian Library Upper Reading Room http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley/finding-resources/rooms/urr
If you are an external visitor, you will need to apply for a Readers’ Card to access these libraries:
http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley/using-this-library/getting-a-readers-card

Skating lady advertising Beechams Glycerine and Cucumber

Holiday time!

We are now closed for a summer break! We will be back in the library on Tuesday afternoon, 21st August, opening Tuesday and Thursday afternoons only until September.

If you need to do any research over the summer, the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Science Library are open most of the summer – check their websites for details.

We wish all our readers a lovely summer, whatever you’re up to!

Tresaith Beach

Swansea University PhD opportunity – Writing Disabled Lives in Nineteenth-Century Britain

History & English Literature: Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarships: Writing Disabled Lives in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Closing date: 22 January 2018

Key Information

Start date: 1 October 2018

See the website for full details

Project details:

During the nineteenth century there were a series of developments that helped to shape ‘disability’ in its modern form. The administrative categorisation of the ‘defective’ poor in workhouses served to identify physical incapacity as a distinctive cause of poverty requiring particular responses, whereas the valorisation of ‘normal’ ranges of human size, strength and intelligence in eugenic thought marked out as deviant and inferior those who failed to meet these standards. Industrialisation, and subsequent struggles over reform (such as campaigns to limit child labour or restrict the length of the working day), promoted an abstract idea of the worker, whose capacities and needs were assumed to be the same as others.

Such developments have begun to attract attention, but considerably less is known about how people with impairments made sense of their experiences within evolving concepts of ‘disability’ and ‘able-bodiedness’. The aim of this PhD studentship is to explore ways in which contemporaries narrated physical difference using a variety of biographical and autobiographical writings. The nineteenth century is significant for a proliferation of texts that explored the lives of people with disabilities. Some, such as the autobiographical writings of Harriet Martineau or John Kitto, are relatively well-known, but many others such as James Wilson’s Biography of the Blind (1820) – arguably the first work of ‘disability history’ – have received very little attention from historians or literary scholars. Accounts of illness and disability abound in working class autobiographies, while pauper letters weave these themes into compelling narratives of need. Life histories of freak show performers, ‘eccentric’ biographies, newspaper obituaries, and new forms of investigative reporting characteristic of the ‘new journalism’ all shed light on experiences of physical and intellectual difference.  Such texts employed a variety of rhetorical strategies for capturing the experiences of ‘disabled’ women and men, yet have not yet been researched systematically from a disability perspective.

The recipient of this PhD studentship will have the opportunity to determine the scope and direction of their research within the broad parameters of the project. Their work will examine how disability is constructed within particular cultural contexts and how these relate to social, religious and medical frameworks for understanding physical difference. Their work will examine critically how narratives of disability are shaped by – and in turn shape – gender, class and racial identities. As part of their project, the PhD student will work with the interdisciplinary supervisory team to develop a programme of public engagement exploring life writing as a tool for promoting health and wellbeing, while also raising awareness of experiences of disability in modern Wales. This may include producing a public engagement blog that uses historical evidence to engage in dialogue with disabled people’s experiences in the present, and other public-facing activities. The supervisors, who won a Research and Innovation Award in 2016 for their work on the exhibition ‘From Pithead to Sickbed and Beyond: the Buried History of Disability in the Coal Industry before the NHS’, will bring their experience in leading disability projects to provide mentoring for the recipient of the studentship to build a public profile for their work and develop its impact potential. The project falls under the auspices of CREW, Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales, and the cross-campus Research Group for Health, History and Culture (RGHHC), which will provide supportive research clusters.  Since its founding in 2010, members of RGHHC have secured grants totalling £1.5 million for individual or collaborative projects. Swansea University is an internationally renowned centre of excellence in disability history. Recent funded projects include ‘Disability and Industrial Society 1780-1880’ (Wellcome Trust) http://www.dis-ind-soc.org.uk/en/index.htm and an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Scholarship on ‘Correcting Vision in Nineteenth-Century Britain’ (with the Science Museum).

Supervisors / Academic Contacts: Professor David Turner and Professor Kirsti Bohata

Welcome to Mary; Term opening hours

Welcome back to a new term at Oxford – and welcome to the Wellcome to our new library assistant, Mary Atkinson! Mary will be here to help you at the library weekday afternoons, 2.15-5pm – do come by and say hello.

We will be closed this week due to 0th week inductions, but we will be open Monday-Friday next week (1st week), 9th-13th October – 2.15-5pm, with the exception of Wednesday, when we are open 2-4.30. As ever, please contact the library in advance of any visit so that we can ensure access. We look forward to welcoming you to the library.

Summer Closure

The Library is now Closed for the summer! We will re-open on Tuesday 21st August, 2.15-5pm, and will be back to more regular hours from that point on.

Over the summer, other History of Medicine resources can be found at:

The Radcliffe Science Library

The Bodleian Upper Reading Room

The History Faculty Library in the Radcliffe Camera

Please check local admissions policies before arriving at these libraries, however! Bodleian Admissions can be found here.

Of course, our online resources remain available – see the HSMT Libguide for further details!

We wish all our readers a pleasant and relaxing summer, and look forward to seeing you again in the Autumn!

Summer Shadows

Summer holiday