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CfP: “Patient Voices” symposium (Oxford, September 2017)

Patient Voices

Historical and Ethical Engagement with Patient Experiences of Healthcare, 1850–1948

An interdisciplinary, policy-focused symposium
New College, University of Oxford
18–19 September 2017

In 1948, diverse health provisions in Britain were consolidated into a single, state-directed service. After almost seventy years of the NHS—the bedrock of modern welfare—there is great concern about any return to a mixed economy of healthcare. The proposed privatisation of health services is controversial because it threatens to destabilise the complex relationships of patients with medical professionals and the state. It calls into question the structure and accessibility of healthcare, as well as the rights of patients, both as medical consumers and sources of medical data. Yet these are questions that equally shaped the development of the NHS prior to its foundation. Historical perspectives on pre-NHS healthcare—perspectives that are increasingly informed by the experiences of patients—are fundamental to understanding not just the past but also the choices before us.

Social historians of medicine have responded in various ways to Roy Porter’s 1985 call for histories incorporating the patient view. But despite work across diverse fields, patient voices before 1948 are yet to be fully integrated into historical scholarship. This symposium brings together historians, medical ethicists and archivists with interdisciplinary expertise to explore questions relating to the accessibility and ethics of the study of patient voices and data in the specific context of pre-NHS provisions. Through research presentations, roundtable discussions and interactive sessions, participants will explore the collection and qualitative use of historical medical records. The symposium will focus on methodological issues by investigating a range of available archives and piloting new strategies for retrieving as-yet-unheard historical patient voices. It will also address ethical issues arising from these pilot strategies, including questions of data protection, informed consent and the implications of new technologies in storing and analysing information.

Following the symposium, participants will be invited to submit articles for a special issue.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers that address one or more of the following questions:

  • How should historians access and interpret the experiences of patients, particularly those with stigmatising conditions?
  • How can historians negotiate archival ‘silences’ when locating patient voices?
  • What can patient experiences tell historians about past, present and future interactions between healthcare consumers and providers?
  • How can the study of historical patient experiences inform the social, political and clinical dimensions of healthcare in the future?
  • What ethical considerations should inform the collection, maintenance and use of sensitive medical archives, including digitisation, data analytics and discourse analysis?
  • How can attention to these ethical considerations shape the study of healthcare and facilitate high-quality medical-humanities research?

Proposals should not exceed 300 words and should be accompanied by a short biography. Please submit them to Anne Hanley (University of Oxford) and Jessica Meyer (University of Leeds) at by 1 April 2017.

This symposium is supported by the Ludwig Humanities Research Fund.

CfP: Symposium on the doctor-patient relationship (Oxford, March 2017)

An interdisciplinary symposium, 24 March 2017, University of Oxford
Call for Papers

Indian doctor taking the pulse of a patient. Gouache drawing. (Wellcome Library, London.) Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons.
“Two distinct and separate parties interact with one another – not one mind (the physician’s), not one body (the patient’s), but two minds and two bodies.”
– Jay Katz, The Silent World of Doctor and Patient (1984)
The doctor-patient relationship is the primary way that we experience medicine: we go to the doctor when we are sick, think we may be sick, or are scared of becoming sick. Healthcare is constructed around encounters between practitioners and patients, and the relationship between them is integral to how medicine is practised, experienced, and represented around the world. It may be paternalistic or a partnership of equals, underpinned by acts of care and compassion or negligence and abuse.
In a one-day symposium on Friday 24 March 2017, we will explore the different ways in which encounters between medical practitioners and patients have been imagined or conceptualised across different historical and cultural contexts.
How has our understanding of these interactions been affected by factors such as scientific and technological advances, urbanisation, and increased patient demand? By interrogating these idiosyncratic and complex personal and professional relationships, how can we better understand broad themes, such as the professionalisation of medicine or the politics of identity? The doctor often tells us a great deal about the patient: but what can the patient tell us about the doctor?
We encourage proposals for 20-minute papers from scholars with an interest in medical humanities working across different disciplines, e.g. arts, humanities, social sciences, and medicine. While papers on the history of medicine in British and North American contexts are welcome, we would also like to hear from scholars working in languages other than English, and on areas of the world beyond Britain and North America.
Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
  • Representations of practitioners and patients in literature, visual arts, and film;
  • Different types of medical practitioners, e.g. nurses, dentists, midwives;
  • History of emotions: the affect of the medical encounter;
  • Whose voice? Patient narratives and case histories;
  • Living with diseases of the age: nervous attacks, melancholia, hysteria, shell-shock;
  • Doctors, patients and identity politics: gender, sexuality, race, class;
  • Professionalisation, power and authority;
  • Experiencing and/or practising colonial, imperial, and indigenous medicine;
  • Medical encounters in the institution: hospitals, workhouses, prisons, asylums;
  • Psychiatry and mental health;
  • Medicine, the state, and its citizens;
  • The material culture surrounding doctor-patient relationships.
Proposals should be no more than 300 words in length and a short biography should be included in addition. Please submit them to by 30 November 2016.
This one-day symposium is funded by The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) through a Medical Humanities Programme Grant and the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project Constructing Scientific Communities.
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Postdoctoral Position: Diseases of Modern Life project (Oxford)

college-ug-indexVacancy: Postdoctoral Research Assistant in 19th Century History of Medicine/Science/Culture

The Diseases of Modern Life project is recruiting for a full-time Postdoctoral Research Assistant in 19th Century History of Medicine/Science/Culture from 1st October 2016 (or as soon as possible thereafter) until the end of the project in January 2019.

The postholder will work under the direction of Professor Sally Shuttleworth, and will be expected to produce a monograph relating to the project research, co-edit a conference volume and present research at UK and international conferences.

Candidates should have been awarded a PhD in a relevant field (such as history of medicine, or science, or literature) by the time of taking up the post. You should show outstanding academic promise, be willing to assist in the organisation of seminars, workshops and conferences, and contribute to the general running of the project

The closing date for applications is Monday 8th August 2016.

For full details of the post and details of how to apply, please refer to the advertisement on the University of Oxford vacancies page.

Registration now open – “Medicine and Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century” (Oxford, Sept. 2016)

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Medicine and Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century
St Anne’s College, University of Oxford
Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 September 2016

Saturday 10 September

9.00        Arrivals and registration

9.30        Welcome and Introduction

9.45        Keynote lecture: Christopher Hamlin, What is your Complaint?  Health as Moral Economy in the Long Nineteenth Century

11.00     Coffee break

11.30     Panel sessions

Session A: The Making of Psychological Identities

Mikko Myllykangas, Suicide as a Sign of Modernity and its Criticism in Finnish Suicide Discourse in the 19th Century

Bernhard Leitner, The Mirror Stage of Pathology: Trajectories of Psychiatric Concepts in the Making of Modern Japan

Katariina Parhi, Dangerous Age of Nervousness: Modernity, Crime, and Legal Responsibility

Session B: Medical Marketing

Alice Tsay, Pills for Our Ills: Patent Medicine Marketing and the Formation of Global Modernity

Lesley Steinitz, Swallowing Modernity: Advertising a Nerve-Strengthening Food

Sophie Ratcliffe, “Giovanni’s got some splendid pills!” Daisy Miller and the ‘Virus of Suggestion’

Session C: Disseminating Scientific Knowledge

Andrew Mangham, William Gaskell, Sanitary Reform and the Diseases of Modern Manchester

Jeffrey Zalar, Strain: Catholic Reactions to Science in Germany, 1840–1914

Jens Lohfert Jørgensen, Bacteriological Modernism

1.00        Lunch

2.00        Panel sessions

Session A: Illness and Politics

Laurens Schlicht, The Revolutionary Shock: The French Revolution and the Medical Construction of the Modern Subject (France, 1800–1830s)

Alex Chase-Levenson, Sanitation and Civilization: The Eastern Question and the Plague

Daphne Rozenblatt, Political Origins of the Modern Psychopath

Session B: Maintaining Health Abroad

Jennifer Kain, ‘Few can benefit more than the over-taxed and over-worried brain worker’: 19th-Century Voyages for Health

Daniel Simpson, Poison Arrows and Unsound Minds: Medical Encounters in the Victorian South Pacific

Angharad Fletcher, Sex, Drugs and Suicide: Nursing Encounters on the ‘Frontiers’ of Empire, 1880–1914

Session C: Masculinity, Modernity, and Mental Health

Amy Milne-Smith, “I have Overworked my Brain”: Men’s Relationship to Work in Modern Britain

Philippa Lewis, An Outdated Emotion? Feeling Shy in fin-de-siècle France

Matthew Klugman, Football Fever – A Disease of Modern Life?


3.30        Coffee break

4.00        Panel sessions

Session A: Sick Landscapes

Erin Lafford, ‘Your vile fenny atmosphere’: Clare’s Fenlands and Climatic Susceptibility

Manon Mathias, Excrement and Infectious Disease in the Late 19th-Century French Novel

Keir Waddington, Drought, Disease, and Modernity in Rural Wales, c.1880–1914

Session B: Health, Disease, and Technology

David Trotter, Digital Disease: Communication in the Telegraph Era

Projit Mukharji, Metaphoric Modernity: Railways, Telegraphs and the New Ayurvedic Body in Victorian Bengal

Galina Kichigina, Electrical Therapy for the Heart: German Scientific Medicine and British Physiology. The Cases of Hugo von Ziemssen and John MacWilliam

Session C: Fatigue

Laura Mainwaring, Deficiency of the Vital Forces: The Rhetoric of Overwork in the 19th-Century Medical Marketplace

Susan Matt and Luke Fernandez, Focus and Fatigue: Cerebral Hyperaemia and the Perils of Specialized Knowledge in 19th-Century America

Steffan Blayney, ‘Drooping with the century’: Fatigue and the fin-de-siècle

5.30        Break

6.00        Drinks reception

7.00        Dinner in St Anne’s Dining Hall


Sunday 11 September

9.30        Panel sessions

Session A: Children’s Health and Disease

Mallory Cohn, Modern Complaints: Victorian Precocity and the Regulation of the Child

Steven Taylor, Imperfect Bodies: The Waifs and Strays Society, Childhood Disability, and Improvement

Jutta Ahlbeck, The Nervous Child and the Disease of Modernity

Session B: Illness, Identity, and Migration

Brad Campbell, Neurasthenia and the New Negro: The 19th-Century Psychiatric Origins of a Modern American Type

Sally Swartz, Migration, Dislocation and Trauma: The Case of Jewish Immigrants to Cape Colony during the 19th Century

Jessica Howell, Enervated India: Tropical Neurasthenia and the Fictions of Empire

Session C: The Body and Modernity

Agnes Arnold-Foster, Pathology of Progress: Cancer in 19th-Century Britain

Helen Goodman, Symptoms of Stress and the Modern Man of Science

F.E. Thurston, The (Re-) Discovery of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the 19th Century

11.00     Coffee break

11.30     Panel sessions

Session A: Physical Culture and the Regulation of the Body

Zachary Turpin, “Manly Health and Training”: Whitman’s Long-Lost Guide to Fitness and 19th-Century Anxieties about Physiological Purity and Perfectibility

Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Anorexia Nervosa: Modernity and Appetite

Alexander Pyrges, Corpulence as an Affliction of the Modern World. Medical and Popular Views in 19th-Century Germany

Session B: Nervousness

Sonsoles Hernández Barbosa, Diversification or Sensory Unification? Ideas around the Evolution of the Senses in fin-de-siècle Culture

Michael Guida, Sonic Therapy: Harmony for Disordered Nerves

David Freis, Preventing Mental Illness in One’s Sleep: Nervousness, Psychiatric Prophylaxis and the Invention of Mental Hygiene in fin-de-siècle Germany

Session C: Medical Practitioners

Sam Nesamony, Medical Philanthropy: ‘Medical Chest’ and ‘Touring Clinics’ of Missionaries in Colonial India

Torsten Riotte, Science, Technology and Individual Responsibility: The Professional, Judicial and Public Debate about Medical Negligence during the 19th Century

Carol-Ann Farkas, The Woman Doctor as Medical and Moral Authority: Nervous Disorders, Purity Campaigns, and Gender Relations in Helen Brent, MD

1.00        Lunch

2.00        Panel sessions

Session A: Rhythmic and Non-Rhythmic Bodies

Laura Marcus, Rhythm and Adaptation in the Machine Age

Karen Chase, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Josephine Hoegaerts, Victims of Civilization: Recording, Counting and Curing Stammerers in 19th-Century Western Europe

Session B: Addiction

Alessia Pannese, Sense and Sensibility in 19th-Century Addiction

Thembisa Waetjen, Habit-Forming Substances and Medicinal Modernities in Colonial South Africa, 1885–1910

Douglas Small, Cocaine, Technology, and Modernity, 1884–1914

Session C: Understanding and Managing Psychiatric Disorder

Kristine Swenson, Phrenology as Neurodiversity: The Fowlers and Modern Brain Disorders

Alfons Zarzoso, A New Medicine for the Insane in a Modern and Industrial Barcelona

Susan Sidlauskas, Picturing/Narrating the ‘Voluntary Boarder’ at Holloway Sanatorium c.1890

3.30        Coffee break

4.00        Keynote lecture: Laura Otis, What’s at Stake in Judging the Health and Pathology of Emotions?

5.00        Conference close

For more information:

CFP: Medicine and Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century (St Anne’s College, Oxford, 2016)

CFP: Medicine and Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century
St Anne’s College, Oxford
10th – 11th September 2016


In our current ‘Information Age’ we suffer as never before, it is claimed, from the stresses of an overload of information, and the speed of global networks. The Victorians diagnosed similar problems in the nineteenth century. The medic James Crichton Browne spoke in 1860 of the ‘velocity of thought and action’ now required, and of the stresses imposed on the brain forced to process in a month more information ‘than was required of our grandfathers in the course of a lifetime’. Through this two day interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the ERC funded Diseases of Modern Life project based at Oxford, we will explore the phenomena of stress and overload, and other disorders associated with the problems of modernity in the long nineteenth century, as expressed in the literature, science, and medicine of the period. We seek to return to the holistic, integrative vision of the Victorians as it was expressed in the science and literature of the period, exploring the connections drawn between physiological, psychological and social health, or disease, and offering new ways of contextualising the problems of modernity facing us in the twenty-first century. We are particularly interested in comparative perspectives on these issues from international viewpoints.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

*         Representations of ‘modern’ disorders and neuroses in literature and the medical press

*         Defining modernity and its problems in the nineteenth century

*         Medical and psychiatric constructions of modern life

*         Social and mental health and welfare

*         Diseases from pollution and changing nineteenth-century environments

*         Diseases from worry, overwork, and mental or physical strain

*         Diseases from excess, self-abuse, stimulants, and narcotics

*         The role of machinery and technology in causing or curing disease

*         Changing relationships between doctors and patients

*         Emerging medical specialisms

*         Global modernities

We welcome proposals from researchers across a range of disciplines and stages of career.  We plan to publish a selection of papers from the event in the form of an edited volume. Please send proposals of no more than 300 words accompanied by a short bio, to by Friday, 4th December 2015.

Amelia Bonea, Melissa Dickson, Jennifer Wallis, Sally Shuttleworth.

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science, Medicine and Literature – Oxford

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science, Medicine and Literature at the University of Oxford. The fellowship is for two years, starting in September or October 2013. The successful applicant will be based in either the Faculty of English Language and Literature, or the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, depending on the area of specialism. The proposed project may be in any area of science, medicine and literature studies, from the medieval period through to contemporary times, and in English or a European language (with a preference for French, Italian or German). Closing date March 12.

For further details see

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