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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Archived news for 2007

13 December 2007
Semester Two Undergraduate Timetable (updated)


28 October 2007
Three new seminar series at CHSTM

Announcing the following additions to our seminar programme:

Don't forget about our weekly CHSTM seminar series and the informal lunchtime seminar, featuring a wide variety of speakers from across the discipline.


15 October 2007
Call for Papers: Third Annual Conference on Science and the Public

Following two successful years in London, the Science and the Public conference moves to Manchester to build on CHSTM's activities in the field of science communication studies. Read the call for papers at the Science and the Public webpage.

15 October 2007
Julie Anderson on Engines of Our Ingenuity

CHSTM's Dr Julie Anderson has recorded an edition of the long-running networked US radio show, The Engines of Our Ingenuity. Her broadcast, 'Babies in Sideshows', deals with the display of premature babies in incubators at public exhibition sites, including Coney Island, in the early twentieth century.


1 October 2007
Lunchtime seminar series, October-December 2007

This semester's lunchtime seminar programme is now available.


1 October 2007
BSHS 2007: the movie!

A short film of the BSHS Annual Conference hosted by CHSTM -- featuring one or two familiar faces -- is now available at the BSHS website -- or view it directly here:


28 September 2007
CHSTM at the Manchester Science Festival

This year sees the launch of the Manchester Science Festival (20-28 October), an annual event to celebrate and develop interest in science, technology and engineering in the local area and beyond. Historical understanding is an integral part of the Festival's aims, and CHSTM staff are closely involved right across the programme of events. Look out for the following:

  • On Saturday 20, Sunday 21 and Monday 22 October, CHSTM volunteers will be leading a guided walk through the city streets, starting at the Manchester Museum on Oxford Road and ending at the Museum of Science and Industry in Castlefield, to reveal the scientific, industrial and medical heritage which shaped the city.
  • If you can't attend the walk, don't worry: in association with colleagues from the Institute of Physics and the University of Salford, CHSTM staff have put together a guided audio trail around central Manchester, for you to download in MP3 format and follow using an audio player. The audio and accompanying website will be launched soon: watch this space for details...
  • At 7pm on Wednesday 24 October, CHSTM's historian of technology James Sumner will be giving a public talk on Science, beer and pubs in history at the Briton's Protection pub. Come along to discover the role of science in brewing over 300 years -- as well as the role of brewers such as James Joule in the history of science, and the unique place of the pub, in the days before widespread free education, as a site for working people to discuss scientific ideas.
  • Our science communication specialist David Kirby has worked closely as advisor to the Festival's film programming. Look out for the screening of Jurassic Park, with Q&A, at the Odeon Printworks on Wednesday 24 October.
  • Also on Wednesday 24th, Emm Barnes and Julia Hyland of the University of Birmingham will be running a rabies workshop at the Manchester Museum. Suitable for all ages, the event re-creates the national news sensation of 1886, the passage of five children from Bradford to Paris to receive Louis Pasteur's new life-saving treatment after they were bitten by a rabid dog (more details here).

For full programme and booking details and the latest updates, see the Manchester Science Festival website.


27 September 2007
Bruno Latour to visit Manchester

The renowned sociologist of science and technology, Professor Bruno Latour of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, is to give a public lecture at the Alexander Lecture Theatre, University of Manchester, on Friday 5 October at 7.30pm, on the title "Is there a cosmopolitically correct design?" Admission is free; all are welcome.


23 September 2007
New staff and students

As the new academic year begins, we are joined by Dr Michael Brown, who comes to us from the University of Kent to take up a Wellcome-funded postdoc on the medical profession in the early nineteenth century. We also welcome four new PhD students: Anna Carlsson, working on the history of storm meteorology with Vlad Jankovic; James Farry, continuing from the MSc programme, working on science reporting and the prestige culture of nuclear physics in 1930s Britain with Jeff Hughes and David Kirby; Debbie McCollin, joining us on a Commonwealth Split-Site Scholarship from the University of the West Indies, working on public health in the Carribean; and Alice Nicholls, who joins us from the Science Museum to take up a Wellcome-funded studentship on the history of intensive care.


23 September 2007
Andrew Gardiner podcast

Andrew Gardiner, a CHSTM PhD student working on the growth of small-animal veterinary practice in the twentieth century, has contributed a podcast recording, 'Elephants and Exclusivity', to the medicalhistory podcast series.


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21 September 2007
Death and the City

Three members of CHSTM took part in the debut performance before a schools audience of Death and the City, a roleplay project developed by the British Society for the History of Science Outreach and Education Committee, at the BA Festival of Science in York. Aimed at Key Stage 3 and 4, the project uses the real-life case of a plague outbreak in York in 1631 to investigate contemporary understandings about disease and its possible causes and cures: children in the audience take the role of a committee of enquiry, and must decide on the city's actions for themselves.

Tom Lean, a PhD student at CHSTM, appeared as Alderman Harvey, one of the chairs of the enquiry; lecturer James Sumner as the enthusiastic providentialist Parson Grimsworth; and our newly-arrived research associate, Mike Brown, as his polar opposite Dr Brightwell, a physician of advanced but rather mercenary ideas. The performance was widely appreciated, and the organisers are currently seeking further venues.


17 September 2007
CHSTM seminar series, October-December 2007

This semester's seminar programme is now available.


22 August 2007
Undergraduate teaching: course unit guide and timetable, 2007-2008


1 July 2007
CHSTM hosts BSHS Annual Conference

BSHS 2007: participants with conference umbrellas
BSHS 2007: participants with conference umbrellas

At the end of June, CHSTM played host to the British Society for the History of Science's Annual Conference. Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the BSHS, this was the Society's largest-ever annual meeting, with a hundred papers, plenary addresses, special events and visits.
CHSTM itself was well-represented: highlights included a plenary address on Manchester’s scientific role from John Pickstone and a panel, ‘Animals Behaving Badly,’ in which CHSTM staff and alumni addressed topics ranging from late Victorian rabies to the sociability of laboratory animals. 

David Kirby, our science and film specialist, organised a public screening of the acclaimed science-fiction feature Sunshine, followed by a question-and-answer session with Brian Cox, a physicist at the University of Manchester and CERN and the film's scientific advisor.  Meanwhile, CHSTM volunteers conducted a guided walk around the city's scientific, industrial and healthcare history — an event which will be repeated at the Manchester Science Festival in October. 

Feedback from the meeting has been overwhelmingly positive, with attendees describing it as "fabulous" and "the most impressive that I have been to." 

27 June 2007
CHSTM Newsletter: Summer 2007


27 June 2007
Staff news

Elizabeth Toon left in May to take up a one-year Lectureship in the History of Medicine at the University of Durham.  She will be returning in April 2008 to take up a Wellcome Trust Fellowship.

Vanessa Heggie has recently been appointed to a two-year Lectureship in the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge.

Francis Neary is also moving to curate an exhibition on Charles Darwin the geologist: an exhibition as part of the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. This will be the first time ever a collection of geology specimens collected by Charles Darwin during his voyage aboard the HMS Beagle as the ship's naturalist will be on public display. The exhibition opens in 2009.


19 May 2007
Distinguished Japanese computer historian visits Manchester

Professor Takako Shimizu, a retired computer scientist now studying the early history of Japanese computers, visited Manchester on 14-19 May 2007 with the help of Aya Homei and James Sumner. Professor Shimizu worked for a Japanese electric company, Hitachi, in the 1950s and was involved in building HITAC 301, the company's first transistor computer. During her stay in Manchester Professor Shimizu met Professor Hilary Kahn of the School of Computer Sciences and visited the Museum of Science and Industry in order to observe the demonstration of the replica of the Baby, the world's first stored-program electronic digital computer.


18 May 2007
Workshop: Re-imagining paediatrics - writing the history of paediatrics

CHSTM and the British Society for the History of Child Health and Paediatrics jointly hosted a workshop on ‘Re-imagining paediatrics,’ organised by Emm Barnes and Neil Pemberton. The meeting brought together historians of medicine, sociologists of child health, and practicing paediatricians interested in the history of the discipline, with the intention of initiating new collaborative projects to reinvigorate the history of child health. Speakers explored how paediatric medicine has developed within, and how it has reshaped, not only our understanding of child health, but also our understanding of the meaning of childhood. Individual papers looked at changes in how and where children were treated within hospitals, at cultural representations of childhood illness and health, and at the fluctuating role of parents in health care, leading to the development of strong themes and new questions.


9 May 2007
Teaching review impresses

All of CHSTM’s teaching was subject to a five-year internal review. The Review Panel, chaired by Professor Colin Stirling, Associate Dean for Education in the Faculty, was provided with detailed documentation and a self-evaluation. The review day, 9 May 2007, saw the panel interview four undergraduate and four postgraduate students (who had all been randomly selected by the Faculty administration) at the start of the day. This was followed by extended sessions with CHSTM’s staff in questions and answer style seesions that probed our teaching activities from all possible angles.

CHSTM’s staff teach an extensive range of undergraduate courses which are offered university-wide to all Schools. Our flagship activity is our MSc programme. The review panel was impressed by the diversity of our courses and had particular praise for the continued efforts to link our teaching efforts to our research activities. In the academic year of 2006-07, we have launched our new MSc programme, which now allows students to choose pathways that lead to named awards in the History of Medicine, History of Science and Technology and Science Communication, as well as our established degree in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. The Panel gave very positive feedback on the new MSc programme. The Panel’s Report will feed into to our review of the Programme and new developments planned for 2007-08, which include enrolling students on an Intercalated MSc in the History of Medicine.


24 March 2007
Workshop: Sites and styles - exploring the comparative history of cancer

On 22-24 March the group around John Pickstone, working on the Wellcome Trust funded project ‘Constructing Cancers, 1945-2000’ hosted its third international workshop with participants from the US, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Britain.


10 March 2007
Workshop: Theorica et practica - medical practice and texts in earlier ages

This meeting was jointly organised by Clare Pilsworth of CHSTM and Debby Banham of Birkbeck College, London. The aim was to bring together those working on the history of medicine before c.1200 and to pool ideas on the thorny topic of the relationship between texts and medical practice. The conference attracted not just academics and postgraduates from institutions throughout the UK, but also practicing herbalists and interested members of the public. Topics included the adaptations of Hippocratic gynaecological recipes, the treatment of the mentally ill in late antique Rome, Anglo-Saxon medicine, doctors in early medieval Italy, and medical magic in thirteenth-century England. Dr. Pilsworth is now setting up a medieval medicine network to foster research links born over lunch at the conference.


23 February 2007
Workshop on developments in mental health since 1945

The aim of this workshop, organised by Val Harrington and Marie Reinholdt, was to create a dialogue between historians of medicine and other academics and practitioners, as well as giving the opportunity for postgraduate students to present their work. It was attended by historians, sociologists and a variety of mental health professionals – a mix which proved very successful, with lively discussions both within and outside the sessions, some very positive feedback from the participants and the establishment of an inter-disciplinary interest group which will meet bi-monthly.


19 February 2007
Warwick Anderson: first Wellcome Trust Visiting Professor

Professor Warwick Anderson, Robert Turell Professor of Medical History, Population Health and History of Science, and Chair of the Department of Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is visiting CHSTM and the Wellcome Unit from 19 February to 2 March 2007. He is our first Wellcome Trust Senior Visiting Professor, appointed as part of our Strategic Award Programme.

Professor Anderson will be giving a seminar in the Faculty of Life Sciences' AstraZeneca Seminar Series on Wednesday 21 February entitled " Kuru, Cannibalism and a Nobel Prize: Medical Research and Moral Peril in New Guinea ," and a CHSTM Seminar on Tuesday 27 February on " Racial Laboratories and Reproductive Frontiers: The Sciences of Human Hybridity in the Twentieth-Century Pacific ."


15 February 2007
CHSTM Postgraduate Open Day 2007

CHSTM will be holding its annual postgraduate open day on Wednesday 7 March 2007. Come along and learn about life at CHSTM, the range of taught Master's and research degrees we provide, local research interests and funding opportunities.


12 February 2007
Pod-history first for Julie Anderson

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography have released their very first set of podcast biographies of selected famous Britons, including Barbara Cartland, Bobby Moore, Maurice Gibb, Barry Sheene and Denis Thatcher.  Also in the first release is Dr Julie Anderson 's biography of the dancer and fitness trainer Lotte Berk.


12 February 2007
Medical Milestones

In January 2007, the British Medical Journal organised an international poll to find the most important medical milestone of the last 160 years. More than 70 nominations were whittled down to a list of 15 including the Pill, the discovery of DNA, germ theory and sanitation. Champions were invited to write on each one including three of CHSTM's historians of medicines: Stephanie Snow - the discovery of anaesthesia; John Pickstone - X rays and Michael Worboys - vaccines.


12 February 2007
Ian Burney: Poison, detection and the Victorian imagination

The murderous antics of one of the 19th century's most infamous killers are the subject of a new book entitled Poison, detection, and the Victorian imagination by Dr Ian Burney. Dr William Palmer's arrest, trial, conviction and subsequent execution, attracted massive media attention, not least because of Victorian England's growing fear over a new form of homicide - criminal poisoning 'by science'. Anonymous and coldly calculating, poisoners were drawing on the advances made by modern science to inflict an insidious form of violence against their victims. To counter this threat, Victorian society looked to the emergent field of toxicology to enable poisoned bodies to tell their tales from beyond the grave by bringing invisible deeds to light by recourse to the test tube.

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