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Friday, 5 April 2013

STDs in the city

There was an excellent turnout for my Wellcome Library Insights presentation yesterday on 'Sex and the City: The STDs of Old London' and a very good response from the audience. I was particularly gratified that nobody invoked the very problematic 'syphilis/genius' trope, which combines a couple of my pet (faux) history of medicine hates: the dreaded parlour game of retrospective diagnosis (of which there was recently a notable example), and the characterisation of some disease as particularly related to creativity (see also tuberculosis) because, of the millions of people who suffered from diseases which were epidemic in the past, a handful were indeed artists, intellectuals, philosophers, etc. The vast majority were not.

This particular Insights session will be reprised at the Wellcome Library on 13th June.

And also on this theme, a recent post of mine on the Wellcome Library blog on our recent acquisition of the archives of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, incorporating those of its predecessor, the Medical Society for the Study of Venereal Diseases, founded in 1922.

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