Seminar Series 2011

This seminar series builds on material presented at the September 2010 Damaging the Body workshop on representations of physical damage to the body in Victorian psychiatry. Whether as treatment or symptom of illness, the problematic discourse of the Victorian body extended well beyond the asylum, incorporating elements as diverse as the functional “self-mutilation” of hysteria (as Roy Porter has termed it), the physical effects of alcohol, opiates or syphilis and the relationship between tattooing and criminality. Moreover, in the later decades of the century, suicide, insanity and crime became strongly connected, throughout Europe and North America, to discourses on the physical and mental degeneration of the race. This complicated and often contradictory dialogue has not been simplified in the twentieth century; the late twentieth century in particular has seen so-called “epidemics” of suicide, self-harm, binge-drinking and anorexia nervosa, repeatedly represented by the media as the all-but inescapable perils of modern society. Discourses on the damaged body thus continue to strongly influence our perceptions of ourselves, our ideas of gender, and of the relationship between body and mind. Through a variety of disciplines, including history, sociology, art, gender studies and literature, this seminar series will explore elements of bodily damage in the last 150 years, opening up wider historical, sociological or psychological concerns.

PAST SEMINARS (2011)

Monday 17th January 2011
An Vleugels (UCL)
Hurting Bodies and Mind: Alcohol in Belgium 1848-1914

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Tuesday 8th February 2011
Chris Millard (Queen Mary, University of London)
Beyond Damaged Bodies – “Self-Poisoning” and Pathologised Domestic Space in 1960s British Psychiatry

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Monday 21st February 2011
Ivan Crozier (University of Edinburgh)
Culture-Bound Syndromes, Koro and the Emergence of 'Cosmopolitan' Psychiatry

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Monday 14th March 2011
David Haslam (National Obesity Forum)
Imperfect Bodies?: Clinical and Sociological Perspectives on Obesity

Monday 9th May 2011
Gemma Angel (UCL)
Marking the (Criminal) Body: Degeneration and Tattooing in Nineteenth Century France

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Tuesday 31st May 2011
Sander Gilman (Emory University)
'Stand Up Straight': Towards a History of the Science of Posture

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Banner Images: Wellcome Library, London except far right: Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum
Banner Design: Sharon Lockwood