Whither the history of nineteenth-century medicine?

Time and date: 10.30 am – 6.00 pm, Friday 21 May 2010

Venue: Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Manchester

Room 2.57, Simon Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester, M13 9PL (Maps at http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/travel/ )

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the nineteenth century lay at the very heart of medical historical scholarship.  Indeed, many historians chose to focus on this period precisely because they believed that it was in the nineteenth century that modern medicine was born.  Historians charted the ‘rise’ of the profession and of hospital and laboratory medicine.  They traced the development of social medicine and public health and reflected on the increasing involvement of medical practitioners in everyday life.  Meanwhile, historians of psychiatry, spurred on by the intellectual legacy of Michel Foucault, sought to understand the asylum as a social, cultural and political institution.

In the last decade or so, however, things have changed.  Historians of medicine continue to work on the nineteenth century but the energy and sense of purpose which used to infuse so much of the earlier work seems to have subsided.  By and large, scholars are content to work within their own particular field without addressing the ‘big’ questions which used to frame the analyses of an earlier generation.  Meanwhile, many historians of medicine are now looking to the twentieth century, perhaps under the impression that the major themes of the nineteenth have already been thoroughly researched.

This workshop seeks to address this state of affairs and to ask where the history of nineteenth-century medicine goes from here.  Divided into three key themes: practice, spirits and nerves, and professions and identities, it will present suggestions for new research agendas as well as an opportunity to discuss the state of the field and how we might develop it.

If you are going to attend this meeting please inform Michael Brown ([email protected] .ac.uk) by 14 May 2010.   There will be no conference fee, but we need to know numbers for morning coffee, a sandwich lunch and afternoon tea, that will be provided.

Coffee (10.30-11.00)

Session 1 – Practice (11.00-12.30)

Michael Worboys (CHSTM, University of Manchester) – Practice and the Science of Medicine in Nineteenth-century Britain

Robert G. W. Kirk and Neil Pemberton (CHSTM, University of Manchester) – The Medical Leech and the Moral Economy of Bloodletting in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Lunch (12.30-13.30)

Session 2 – Spirits and Nerves (13.30-15.00)

Sebastian Normandin (University Canada West) – Materialism, Spiritualism and Vitalism: Towards the “Soul” of Nineteenth-Century Medicine

Katharine Daneski (School of Health Science, Swansea University) – How far can Foucault take us?  Methodological issues in researching apoplexy in the Nineteenth-Century

Tea (15.00-15.30)

Session 3 – Professions and Identities (15.30-17.00)

Ian Miller (School of History and Archives, University College Dublin) – New Directions in Regional Nineteenth-Century Medicine: Irish Identity and Medical Reform, c. 1820-1858

Michael Brown (CHSTM, University of Manchester) – Professionalism as Identity and Ideology: Rethinking the Analytical Categories of Nineteenth-Century Medical History

Round table discussion (17.00-1800)