Tag Archives: collections

New Books: Medical Students and Left-Handers!

Our new books received in the last month include studies on medical education in Ireland, diagnostic practices in Victorian asylums, medical technology and public health in former Soviet regions, malaria in 19th-century India, and the history of left-handedness.

See our full range of new titles on LibraryThing: https://www.librarything.com/catalog/WelLibOxford/yourlibrary

Laura Kelly, Irish medical education and student culture, c.1850-1950 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2017)
‘The first comprehensive history of medical student culture and medical education in Ireland’ over this hundred-year period. Using sources including periodicals, literary works, administrative records, and first-hand written and spoken accounts, Laura Kelly looks at the academic and extra-curricular experiences of students, how these experiences shaped their identities as medical professionals, and how they were perceived within their wider communities. The book also highlights divisions of religion, class and gender within this medical sphere.

Olga Zvonareva, Evgeniya Popova & Klasien Horstman (eds.), Health, technologies, and politics in post-Soviet settings: navigating uncertainties (New York, NY: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017)
The introduction to this edited volume begins with a trend recognised by studies of science and technology; politics and healthcare mutually shape each other, and instead of bringing certainty through the solutions they offer, new medical technologies often stimulate ‘the emergence of new questions and dilemmas’ (p. 3). This uncertainty is multiplied when these technologies are situated in post-Soviet regions, which have their own unique political and social uncertainties. The book’s approach is to encourage ‘critical learning’ by bringing together the disciplines of science and technology studies, and post-socialism studies. Chapters include case studies on egg donation, radiation science, and the development of new drugs.

Jennifer Wallis, Investigating the body in the Victorian asylum (New York, NY: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017)
A study which links the histories of medicine, psychiatry, science and the body, this book uncovers the common practice of late nineteenth-century doctors to seek bodily evidence for the causes and symptoms of mental illnesses, using both clinical tests on patients and postmortem dissections. Jennifer Wallis uses the West Riding Asylum in Yorkshire as her main case study. Taking an ‘anatomical approach that aims to mirror contemporary processes of investigation’ (p. 14), the chapters cover various body parts in turn: skin, muscle, bone, brain and fluids.

Howard I. Kushner, On the other hand : left hand, right brain, mental illness, and history (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017)
An exploration of the ‘medical and cultural history of left-handedness’. Alongside his own experiences as a left-hander, Kushner considers the relationships, medically or socially constructed, between handedness, linguistics, taboo, disability and social tolerance. Chapters include: the reasons that have been posited for left-hand preference, the ways in which different cultures measure and judge handedness, and the psychological stereotyping of left-handers as criminals or creative geniuses.

Rohan Deb Roy, Malarial subjects : empire, medicine and nonhumans in British India, 1820-1909 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)
In this study which links the history of medicine and science with empire and postcolonial studies, Rohan Deb Roy explores ‘the makings and persistence of malaria as an enduring diagnostic category’ (p.3) of disease and cure. In the long nineteenth century this category was not a straightforward medical diagnosis, but linked together various illnesses, plants, insects and other malarial objects which became, in the context of imperial rule, ‘objects of natural knowledge and social control’. Using British government and Bengali sources, chapters explore the growing of cinchona plants, the manufacture of quinine, and the making of the ‘Burdwan Fever’ epidemic.

 

 

 

New Books: January 2018

Recent arrivals at the Wellcome Unit Library: new books on surgery, syphilis, pregnancy, medical experimentation and global medicine! To consult any of our collections, contact us to arrange your visit to the library.

Keep up with all our new books via LibraryThing: https://www.librarything.com/catalog/WelLibOxford/yourlibrary

 

 

 Lindsey Fitzharris, The butchering art : Joseph Lister’s quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine (London : Allen Lane, 2017)
‘The gripping story of how Joseph Lister’s antiseptic method changed medicine forever’.
Medical schools, operating theatres, hospitals, mortuaries and graveyards provide the setting for Lindsey Fitzharris’s account of Lister’s pioneering discoveries. Fitzharris concentrates on a quarter-century of dramatic change in the practice of surgery, from 1850-1875. Lister’s work on germs and infection in this period brought together science and medicine in a world where recovery from medical operations was often a matter of luck.

Monika Pietrzak-Franger, Syphilis in victorian literature and culture : medicine, knowledge and the spectacle of Victorian invisibility (New York, NY : Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017)
Described as ‘the first large-scale interdisciplinary study of syphilis in late Victorian Britain’, Monika Pietrzak-Franger’s book explores the disease in medical, social, political and cultural contexts, reflecting on how images and discussions of syphilis played a role in constructing individual and collective identities. The study highlights the dichotomy of visibility and invisibility surrounding syphilis: as an invisible virus which could produce highly visible symptoms, a disease which was highly debated in medical circles but difficult to diagnose and treat, and a source of private shame which was publicly referenced in various mediums of literature, art and music.

Mark Jackson (ed.), A global history of medicine (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018)
This book features chapters by specialists on the history of medicine in China, the Islamic World, North and Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Western and Eastern Europe, and Australia and New Zealand, with starting and ending chapters framing the discussion. To begin, Mark Jackson discusses a challenge faced by historians of medicine: the need to take a global perspective whilst adequately considering the impact of specific local and temporal conditions. In the final chapter Sanjoy Bhattacharya takes smallpox as a case study for the way  these two dimensions should be integrated, arguing against ‘constrained global histories’ (p.257) which concentrate on powerful official health campaigns and assume worldwide trends but neglect the nuance of regional and local voices.

Jenifer Buckley, Gender, pregnancy and power in eighteenth-century literature: The Maternal Imagination (New York: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017)
Looking at medical writings, plays, poetry, novels and popular pamphlets, Jenifer Buckley explores the trope of ‘maternal imagination’ in the eighteenth century: the belief that a pregnant woman could use their mind to influence the development of their unborn child. Beginning with the fascinating case of Mary Toft, a woman who claimed to have metamorphosed her unborn baby into a rabbit, Buckley traces the ways in which maternity was viewed as performance in this period. For authors, the idea of maternal imagination linked to debates about gender, power and the interaction between mind and body, and pregnant women became a stage on which these concerns could be addressed.

Deirdre Benia Cooper Owens, Medical bondage : race, gender, and the origins of American gynecology (Athens : The University of Georgia Press, [2017])
This new study looks at how the discoveries of nineteenth-century gynaecologists such as John Peter Mettauer, James Marion Sims and Nathan Bozeman were informed by medical experimentation on enslaved black women and Irish immigrant women. Deirdre Benia Cooper Owens tells the stories of these women using a variety of sources including medical journals, oral history interviews, newspapers and hospital records. Cooper Owens looks specifically at the destructive ‘medical fictions’ created to justify exploitation, such as the theory that enslaved black women were more resistant to pain than white women, and more broadly at the ways slavery, medicine and science were intertwined, and how American ideas about race, gender and bodies in this period influenced medical practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!