UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
LEEDS CENTRE FOR MEDICAL HUMANITIES & CENTRE FOR HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE BRITISH SOCIETY FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE
PUBLIC LECTURE: IAN HACKING, “MAKING UP AUTISM”, 13 MAY 2013, 5:15
On Monday 13 May, Professor Ian Hacking (U. of Toronto/Collège de France) will deliver the inaugural C. L. Oakley Lecture in Medicine and the Arts at the University of Leeds. His lecture, entitled “Making Up Autism”, will take place at 5:15 pm in the Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, in the Michael Sadler (Arts) Building, on the University campus, and will be followed by a wine reception in the School of English. All are welcome.
This public lecture will form part of a two-day programme of events at Leeds involving Prof. Hacking. On the morning of Tuesday 14 May, he will be leading a follow-up seminar for postgraduate students, exploring further the themes of the lecture the previous evening. Although space in this seminar is very limited, it is open to postgraduate students from any institution. Interested students should contact Greg Radick as soon as possible at [email protected].
Later that Tuesday, at 3 pm, Prof. Hacking will present a talk in the Leeds Philosophy seminar series on the larger philosophical project on “making up people” from which his recent work on autism arises. This talk will take place in the Miall Lecture Theatre. Again, all are welcome.
Abstracts for both the public lecture on Monday 13 May and the Philosophy talk on Tuesday 14 May are appended below. An audio podcast of “Making Up Autism” will be made available in due course at the website of the British Society for the History of Science, which has generously provided funding in support of this event.
“Making Up Autism” (Monday 13 May, 5:15pm)
How was autism shaped from its beginning, as a rare infantile disorder first recognized in the 1940s, to its present much-publicized state in which it is almost regarded as common? How did it come into being and develop as a new way in which to be a person, a way in which to think of oneself, of people one cares about? There are many ways to explain the increasingly common diagnosis without invoking an ‘epidemic’ as in the media. The lecture will discuss how autism was shaped over the course of a few decades, with an emphasis not on numbers or on social services, but rather on how a new kind of person can come into being in what is (for me) living memory.
“‘Making Up People’ in Retrospect” (Tuesday 14 May, 3 pm)
For some thirty years I have, off and on, been reflecting on ways in which new classifications of people come into being, how they affect people, and how the people classified in turn cause changes in the character of the classifications themselves—a looping effect. There have been a few general papers, a couple of books on special cases of mental illness, two lecture courses in Paris, and quite a few examples ranging from obesity to autism, from genius to criminality. A surprising (to me) number of people in various social, human, and medical sciences have found this work helpful. I would like to discuss, with people who come to the meeting, what it would be useful to do now.
For more on Prof. Hacking’s writings on autism and on the “making up people” project generally, see the bibliography at http://www.ianhacking.com/
For more on the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities, go to http://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/
For more on the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, go to
For more on the British Society for History of Science (including membership information), go to