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Wednesday 28 September 2011

Another interesting exhibition

Images of the Unborn from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century

An exhibition of the history of the public images of embryos and foetuses will take place in the Holliday Building at Durham University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees from Friday 7th October until Friday 9th December.

‘The Foetus Goes Public’ looks at how images of embryos and foetuses shape our understanding of life and reproduction.  This exhibition tells the fascinating story of how the foetus moved from obscure Medieval manuscripts to become a public icon in the twentieth century that, today, is available to everyone at anytime through the internet.

Dr Lutz Sauerteig from the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease will officially open the exhibition on 7th October at 1.30 pm.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of public lectures :
Prof John McLachlan (School of Medicine and Health), ‘Imagining the Embryo’ (21 October, 12.45pm, Holliday Building, Room A011).
Dr Nadja Reissland (Department of Psychology), ‘Fetal Crying: Is the Fetal Cry Face Gestalt Associated with Prenatal Depression and Attachment?’ (11 November, 10.00 am, Wolfson Research Institute, Room F009).
Dr Sebastian Pranghofer (CHMD and Department of Philosophy), ‘Personhood Before Birth? Early Modern Images of the Unborn’ (25 November, 12.45pm, Holliday Building, Room A015/016).

Entry to the exhibition and the lectures is free.

For more information, contact Rachel Simpson on telephone 0191 3340700, email: or visit

Monday 26 September 2011

Some forthcoming events

Pathology Museum Seminars at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital

A unique series of seminars that promise both fascinating insights into a diverse range of topics,
and also a glimpse into a little known London museum. Housed within the grounds of St. Bartholomew’s 
Hospital at West Smithfield, the museum holds a broad range of pathological 
specimens, some of  which date from the late 1700s, and the papers programmed all speak in 
some way to this collection, as well as to each other. 
October 12th 5.30-7.00 
Documentary filmmaker and producer Phil Stein will show excerpts from and 
speak on the Making of the Elephant Man (2010)

October 19th 6.00-7.30
Professor Tili Tansey (Queen Mary) and Professor Brian Hurwitz (King College 
London) speaking on medical narratives and museum voices

November 9th 5.30-7.00
Philip Ball (University of Cambridge) and a medical artist will speak on the 
history of medical illustration and their current practice 

November 16th 5.30-7.00 
Dr Keir Waddington (Cardiff University) will speak on ‘Dying Scientifically: 
Gothic Romances and London’s Teaching Hospitals’. Dr Sam 
Alberti (The Royal College of Surgeon) and Dr Fay Bound Alberti (Queen Mary) 
will present on ‘Body Parts on Bart’s’

November 23rd 5.30-7.00
Dr Carmen Mangion and Dr Louise Hide from the Birkbeck Pain Project will 
speak on 'Rhetorics of Pain in Nineteenth-Century Convent Necrologies' be 
speaking on 'Pain and Neurosyphilis'

November 30th 5.30-7.00 
Professor Sharon Ruston (University of Salford) will speak on ‘Shelly and Davy 
and the Bart’s Medical Archive’ and Professor Iwan Rhys Morus (University of 
Aberystwyth) will present on ‘Frankenstein and Vitality’ 
December 14th 5.30-7.00
David Ross (The Army Health Unit, Camberley) will present on public health 
and the military and Professor Edgar Jones (Kings College London) will speak 
on shellshock and its representation in film
No need to book, wine and nibbles provided 
Robin Brook Centre at St.  Barts, West Smithfield, EC1M 6BQ. Closest tube stops is St. Paul's. 

Malicious Damage: The crimes of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell

In 1962 the aspiring playwright Joe Orton and his partner and mentor 
Kenneth Halliwell, who live together in Islington, were each sentenced 
to six months imprisonment for malicious damage to Islington Public 
Library books. The offenders were found guilty of stealing and 
‘doctoring’ library book covers with images from other sources or by 
adding new text and narrative. They also removed illustrations from 
library art books to ‘wallpaper’ their bed-sit at 25 Noel Road. During imprisonment Joe Orton embarked 
upon what was to be a successful but all too brief writing career, cut 
short by his murder at the jealous hand of his partner. ‘Malicious 
Damage’ tells the story surrounding the crimes of Orton and Halliwell 
and, for the first time at Islington Museum, offers the opportunity to 
view all of the surviving doctored book covers along with other material
 reflecting the life and work of the pair. ‘Malicious Damage’ coincides 
with the publication of a new book of the same title, produced by 
Islington Library and Heritage Services and Donlon Books. 
 Free event at Islington Museum
 For more information, please call 020 7527 2837
 or email 

Thursday 15 September 2011

Forthcoming radio appearance

I was interviewed a few weeks ago for this BBC Radio 3 programme forthcoming on Sunday evening:  Out in the World - A Global Gay History (Episode 1). A trailer for it featured on today's Woman's Hour.

Monday 12 September 2011

Women's History Network Conference 2011

This was an excellent conference and all credit to the organisers. Gratifying to report for a conference celebrating 20 years of the WHN annual conference, along with many of the old guard still going strong (indeed if memory serves I was at the 1991 conference in Nottingham) there were large numbers of newer and younger faces, which in view of the suggested decline in women's studies and women's history was an encouraging sign.

One general observation: this year panel presenters seem to have given more attention to the question, 'Is that PowerPoint really necessary?' - while there are many instances in which PowerPoint is indeed a boon (anyone who recollects the hassles involving slides, projectors, overhead transparencies etc realises that it does serve a purpose), last year I felt there was a certain amount of belief that every paper must have its PowerPoint, whether or not there was valuable visual evidence to be conveyed.

All the panels and papers I attended had something of interest about them. The panel I chaired on Sunday worked particularly well - although a couple of the papers were familiar to me from the Berks (Tim Jones on D Sherwin Bailey's theology of marriage and Jacqueline de Vries on Mary Scharlieb and sex education in the early 20th) with Sue Morgan's work on Maude Royden and Sex and Commonsense as well the conjunction went very well indeed and (like other papers I heard) reinforces the importance of taking another look at the role of religion and spirituality in the development of modern sexual discourses in the C19th and C20th.

The ancillary events were also splendid - the conference dinner at Toynbee Hall (and the catering generally), the evening reception for book launches and award presentation in The Women's Library exhibition space.

Friday 9 September 2011


Getting my head up from of the arduous and engrossing task of revising Sex, Gender and Social Change (holy cow, but there has been A LOT of relevant historiography happening since 1999) to make my more or less habitual trip to the Women's History Network Annual Conference (this year I'm even able to attend on all 3 days).

Not sure whether I shall be able to make the time to do a conference report, but the programme and abstracts are available here.

Monday 5 September 2011

On behalf of a colleague who's organising this

Healthcare and housewifery
Wellcome Collection talk
06 October 2011, 19.00 - 20.30
How did edible remedies enable women to challenge male medical orthodoxy in early modern England?
While some people turned to medical practitioners in times of illness, many relied on homemade medicines and remedies.
This event includes time for you to view unique manuscripts from the Wellcome Library’s special collections.
Speaker: Dr Elaine Leong , historian of early modern medicine and science, University of Cambridge.
This event is FREE.
To book a ticket please click
This talk forms part of a wider series of autumn events at Wellcome Collection exploring the connections between food, health and life. To find out more please go to

Thursday 1 September 2011

Women Health and Healing reprised

I will be presenting a Wellcome Library Insights session on Women Health and Healing at 3 pm on 22nd September. Illustrated talk and a chance to get up close and personal with some archival and manuscript materials.