Author Archives: bjenkins

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

Colloquium: Knowledge in Context

KNOWLEDGE IN CONTEXT: COLLOQUIUM BROCKLISS-JONES

22-23 September 2017

University of Oxford

In 1997, Laurence Brockliss (Magdalen College, Oxford) and Colin Jones (QMUL) published The Medical World of Early Modern France, a landmark in the history of medicine because of its integration of social and institutional history with intellectual history.  It established a vibrant new approach to the history of medicine and knowledge of the early modern period while also encouraging Anglo-French intellectual exchange.  As 2017 is the twentieth anniversary of this work’s publication and the year of Laurence Brockliss’s retirement, colleagues and former pupils have organized a colloquium in their honour.  Scholars from a range of historical disciplines (classical scholarship/antiquarianism, philosophy, and the natural sciences) will discuss the ways in which knowledge is contextualized in early modern Europe and Britain.  Participants are also from a variety of national perspectives and locations, demonstrating the range of Brockliss and Jones’s impact in integrating intellectual history with other sub disciplines of history.

Organizers: François Zanetti, Floris Verhaart, Erica Charters

Registration: £40 (£20 for students/ECR/unwaged), to open 1 August.

For more details: http://www.wuhmo.ox.ac.uk/event/knowledge-context-colloquium-brockliss-jones

 

Vacation Opening July-August

During the Long Vacation, the library’s hours will vary considerably due to staff leave:

July: We will be staffed Tuesday and Thursday afternoons only, with the exception of Thursday 20th July. Our opening hours will be 2.15-5pm on Tuesdays, and 2pm-4.30pm on Thursdays.

August: The library will be CLOSED 1st-15th August inclusive. Thereafter, we will be staffed Tuesday and Thursday afternoons only until the beginning of September.

Visits to the library over the summer months will be by appointment only due to the varying nature of our opening hours. You can find our contact details here.

Other libraries with History of Medicine Resources that you can visit whilst we are closed include the Radcliffe Science Library on Parks Road and the Upper Reading Room of the Bodleian Library, which has a collection of HSMT books selected by the Bodleian History Librarian.

We hope you all have a glorious summer, whatever the weather! Punting on the Cherwell

Vale Grace!

To all things there is a season, and to Library Assistants too! Today we say farewell to Grace, who has been Library Assistant at the Unit for two years, and who has been responsible for all the fun social media output here for the last year or so. Grace is leaving to take up the post of Senior Library Assistant for Reader Services at the Sackler Library, and we wish her all the best!

Belinda, of course, decorated the library for her last day…

Stay tuned for further details of our Summer Closures (and our opening hours.)

CFP: Doctor-Doctor: Global and Historical Perspectives on the Doctor-Patient Relationship

DOCTOR-DOCTOR:

GLOBAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE DOCTOR-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP

An interdisciplinary symposium, Friday 24 March 2017, TORCH, University of Oxford

Keynote Speaker: Dr Anna Elsner, University of Zurich

Call for Papers

“Two distinct and separate parties interact with one another – not one mind (the physician’s), not one body (the patient’s), but two minds and two bodies.”

– Jay Katz, The Silent World of Doctor and Patient (1984)

The doctor-patient relationship is the primary way that we experience medicine: we go to the doctor when we are may be sick, or are scared of becoming sick. Healthcare is constructed around encounters between practitioners and patients, and the relationship between them is integral to how medicine is practised, experienced, and represented around the world. It may be paternalistic or a partnership of equals, underpinned by acts of care and compassion or negligence and abuse.

In a one-day symposium on Friday 24 March 2017, we will explore the different ways in which encounters between medical practitioners and patients have been imagined or conceptualised across different historical and cultural contexts.

How has our understanding of these interactions been affected by factors such as scientific and technological advances, urbanisation, and increased patient demand? By interrogating these idiosyncratic and complex personal and professional relationships, how can we better understand broad themes, such as the professionalisation of medicine or the politics of identity? The doctor often tells us a great deal about the patient: but what can the patient tell us about the doctor?

We encourage proposals for 20-minute papers from scholars with an interest in medical humanities working across different disciplines, e.g. arts, humanities, social sciences, and medicine. While papers on the history of medicine in British and North American contexts are welcome, we would also like to hear from scholars working in languages other than English, and on areas of the world beyond Britain and North America.

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of practitioners and patients in literature, visual arts, and film;
  • Different types of medical practitioners, e.g. nurses, dentists, midwives;
  • History of emotions: the affect of the medical encounter;
  • Whose voice? Patient narratives and case histories;
  • Living with diseases of the age: nervous attacks, melancholia, hysteria, shell-shock;
  • Doctors, patients and identity politics: gender, sexuality, race, class;
  • Professionalisation, power and authority;
  • Experiencing and/or practising colonial, imperial, and indigenous medicine;
  • Medical encounters in the institution: hospitals, workhouses, prisons, asylums;
  • Psychiatry and mental health;
  • Medicine, the state, and its citizens;
  • The material culture surrounding doctor-patient relationships.

Proposals should be no more than 300 words in length and a short biography should be included in addition. Please submit them to Sarah Jones (Oriel College, Oxford) and Alison Moulds (St Anne’s, Oxford) doctorpatient17@torch.ox.ac.uk by 30 November 2016.

This one-day symposium is funded by The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) through a Medical Humanities Programme Grant and the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project Constructing Scientific Communities.

August Hours

Our opening hours during August will be as follows:

Tuesday 2nd August, 2.15-5pm
Thursday 4th August, 2-4.30pm
Tuesday 16th August, 2.15-5pm
Thursday 18th August, 2.15-5pm
Tuesday 30th August, 2.15-5pm

All other times, the Unit Library will be closed to visitors. We apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused by this. Students of the History of Medicine will find alternative collections which may be used at the Radcliffe Science Library, and the Bodleian Library Upper Reading Room.
If you wish to visit the Library, as ever please do contact us in advance – especially important over the summer break!
Summer Afternoon