This seminar series aims to bring together a range of historical perspectives on surgery, acting as a space for discussion on an area of medicine that has a relatively limited historiography. As the surgical historian Thomas Schlich has noted, “traditional concepts of surgical history, surgical knowledge and practice, as well as surgical concepts of disease, have been considered self-evident rather than a subject for critical enquiry”. Yet surgery shocks, revolts and fascinates perhaps more than any other branch of medicine and, while increasingly routine, also retains its reputation as a risky and daring occupation. At the crux of the surgical encounter is the complex relationship between surgeons, the technologies that aid their performance and the patients on which they operate. With the ever present potential for surgical performance to be destructive as well as constructive or reconstructive, surgery has always been one of the most visible and effecting examples of medical change and innovation.
This seminar series is strongly intended to facilitate a wide breadth of methodologies, the aim being to move away from the polarisation between “social” and “technical” discourses of surgery which have tended to dominate its historiography. Instead, the objective is to seek more productive ways through which historians of surgery can engage with one another and explore what has been and what could be in surgery and surgical history.
Emma Markiewicz (National Archives)
The Medicalization of Human Hair: Health, Infection and Hair in Eighteenth-century England
Tom Treasure (University College London)
Mr Brock and the the Peacock Club: Conversations and Conversion in the Late 1940s
Ilana Löwy (CERMES)
From Danger to Risk: History of Preventive Surgery for Women's Cancer
Anne Crowther (University of Glasgow)
Lister's Grandsons, Scottish Trained Doctors and Surgery in the Twentieth Century
Lindsey Fitzharris (Queen Mary, University of London)
All seminars: 5:30-6:30pm
Registration for this event is not required. Admission free.
Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL
Fifth floor, 183 Euston Road
More information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/histmed
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