The Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland will host a workshop entitled ‘History, Digestion and Society: New Perspectives’ in University College Dublin from Friday April 30 to Saturday May 1 2010. Programme is below. To register or to receive more info e-mail Michael Liffey


Workshop Outline

Diet and digestion, and associated topics, have been relatively neglected in histories of the body, health and medicine.  We have a limited historical context in which to locate the diseases and ailments of the digestive system, such as dyspepsia or peptic ulcer disease, not to mention processes such as vomiting.  Meanwhile, historical analysis of issues related to food and eating often reveals a tendency to stress the political elements of historical events at the expense of the biological and medical.  Topics such as hunger strikes, and the rise of organised movements such as the Temperance movement and organised vegetarianism have complex medical and biological aspects which are worthy of serious analytical attention. This workshop aims to act as a platform to discuss and critically engage with these themes.

Friday April 30

Panel 1 – 1.15 – 3.15pm – Digestive Investigation in the 19th Century

Rachael Russell (University of Manchester)

‘Surrounded with Difficulty and Uncertainty’: Nausea and Vomiting in Clinical Diagnosis, 1856-1903

Neil Pemberton (University of Manchester)

Stomachs of Evidence: Forensic Pathology, the Stomach of the Corpse and Murder Investigation 1870-1920

Michael Worboys (University of Manchester)

A Dog’s Dinner

Panel 2 – 3.30 – 5.15pm – Historical Perspectives of Food Refusal in the Asylum

Rebecca Wynter (University of Birmingham)

‘One Motion, Dark and Offensive’: Diet, Digestion and the Asylum, 1818 – 1854

Ann Daly (NUI Maynooth)

‘Fasting Girls’: Eating Disorders and the Lure of Sickness in Ireland 1850 – 1900

Saturday May 1 2010

Panel 3 – 10 – 11.15am – Gastric Illness in the late Twentieth Century

Rhodri Hayward (King’s College, London)

Gastric Disorders and the Rise of Evidence Based Politics in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain

Katherine Angel (Warwick University)

A Very Simple Answer: Causal Reasoning in the Lat Twenty Five Years of Peptic Ulcer

Panel 4 – 11.30-12.45 – Food Shortages in the 1940’s

Funke Sangodeyi (Harvard University)

Cattle Guts, Cellulose-eating Microbes and Livestock Improvement

Panel 5 – 2-3.15pm – International Perspectives on Digestion

Adrian Zandberg (University of Warsaw)

“Dry Villages”: Local Alcohol Prohibition in Polnad 1920 – 1934

Erik Loomis (Southwestern University)

Food, the Human Body, and Labour Conflict in the Pacific Northwest Timber Industry, 1900 – 1937

The workshop is organised by Ian Miller and Catherine Cox for the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland. For more information or to register contact Michael Liffey (michael.liffey(at)

Admission is free