Of all the infectious diseases that defied biomedical reason in the early twentieth century, encephalitis lethargica proved the most resilient. It was, as Simon Flexner put it in 1928, “a disease without a history.” It was equally a disease without a future, as the encephalitis epidemics that had so engaged researchers during the 1920s became vague recollections of their own failures by the end of the ‘30s. But interest in encephalitis did not wane simply because the epidemics disappeared. Archival records, which testify to the disease’s unstable clinical and experimental phenomenology, demonstrate that research-driven biomedicine ultimately abandoned encephalitis because its practitioners were unable to make it conform to their investigative models or concepts.
Wood Institute short-term fellow Dr. Kenton Kroker will present. The seminar starts at 12:30. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Gabriela Zoller (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have trouble reaching us by email, please call 215-563-3737, etx. 305. The College of Physicians is at 19 South 22nd Street in center city Philadelphia.
Kenton Kroker is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University. A revised version of his doctoral dissertation, which examines the history of sleep physiology and the discovery of rapid eye movement in 1953, is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press (2003). His archival pursuits in the history of encephalitis lethargica have been generously supported through research fellowships at the New York Academy of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society Library, and the Wood Institute at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Gabriela Zoller, Admninistrative Assistant
Francis C. Wood Institute for the History of Medicine
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
(215) 563-3737, ext. 305 Email: email@example.com
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