Damaging the Body Seminar Series

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The Wellcome Trust for the History of Medicine at UCL in conjunction with the University of the West of England

This seminar series will build on material presented at the September 2010 Damaging the Body workshop, generating a new historiographical field pertaining to physical damage to the body in Victorian and twentieth century psychiatry. Whether as treatment or symptom of illness, the problematic discourse of the Victorian body extended well beyond the asylum, incorporating elements as diverse as the functional “self-mutilation” of hysteria (as Roy Porter has termed it), the physical effects of alcohol, opiates or syphilis and the relationship between tattooing and criminality. Moreover, in the later decades of the century, suicide, insanity and crime became strongly connected, throughout Europe and North America, to discourses on the physical and mental degeneration of the race. This complicated and often contradictory dialogue has not been simplified subsequently; the late twentieth century in particular has seen so-called “epidemics” of suicide, self-harm, binge-drinking and anorexia nervosa, repeatedly represented by the media as the all-but inescapable perils of modern society. Discourses on the damaged body thus continue to strongly influence our perceptions of ourselves, our ideas of gender, and of the relationship between the body and the mind. Through a variety of disciplines, including history, sociology, history of art, gender studies and literature, this seminar series will explore discrete elements of bodily damage in the last century and a half, opening up wider historical, sociological and psychological concerns.

Speakers will speak for 40 – 50 minutes on a topic, followed by a similar period for questions.

Monday 17th January
An Vleugels
Hurting Bodies and Mind: Alcohol in Belgium 1848-1914

Tuesday 8th February
Chris Millard
Attempted Suicide and British Psychiatric Research: Registers of Space and Knowledge Production

Monday 21st February
Ivan Crozier
Culture-Bound Syndromes, Koro and the Emergence of ‘Cosmopolitan’ Psychiatry

Monday 14th March
David Haslam
Imperfect Bodies?: Clinical and Sociological Perspectives on Obesity

Monday 9th May
Gemma Angel
Title tbc.

Tuesday 31st May
Sander Gilman
Title tbc.

Registration for this event is not required.

Admission from 5.45pm – 6.15pm

More information can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/histmed/library/Damaging_Termtwo2010

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