Medical Sensations – An Opportunity for a Medical Humanities Engagement

Amala Poli // I recently visited the Canadian Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa to explore the Medical Sensations exhibition, curated by David Pantalony and launched in November, 2017. The curation of this exhibition reveals a profound engagement with medical humanities by enabling the visitor to interact with medical culture. Organized around the five senses,…

“It hath left behind it so foul and filthy broad scars, that touched the lives of four persons”: Stories of Medical Malpractice in Elizabethan England

In the preface to his 1588 treatise on surgery, Elizabethan surgeon William Clowes declared to his reader that “mine intent is not to hold my tongue at abuses” (A prooued practise sig. A1r). Thus began a section in which he discussed several stories of medical malpractice.1 In one, he described a “pernicious pill” that had…

A Different Gaze

  Foucault was a French philosopher known for his interrogation of knowledge and structures of power. In Birth of the Clinic (1973) he described how the medical gaze arose from 18th-century dissection, which exposed ‘what for centuries had remained below the threshold of the visible and expressible’ developing further through 19th-century pathological anatomy, which reduced…

“A Hallowed Institution”: The Bordel Militaire de Campagne (Mobile Field Brothels) and the Making of Military Prostitution in France Following World War One

Reflecting on the French system of military prostitution known as Bordels Militaires de Campagne (BMC, Mobile Field Brothels) during the First World War, Dr. Léon Bizard wrote in his memoirs (1925): It was a mêlée, a hard, dangerous, and disgusting business. Fifty, sixty, up to a hundred men of all colors and races to relieve…

Fertility and Consent in Machiavelli’s Writing

  Today Machiavelli is known almost exclusively as a political thinker, but to his contemporaries he was also an expert on herbs and poisons. Though his medicinal writings no longer exist, Machiavelli is cited twice in 16th-century manuals as an expert on spider poison. Likely, he would have been extremely familiar with the early modern…

Calories: The measure of nurture

The date was October 28, 1935. The night could have been peaceful and relaxing for 26-year-old Fukuda Katsu living in Tokyo if her husband did not complain about dinner. After quibbling about her cooking of rice, he rebuked Katsu for lack of knowledge: “You are too indifferent about calories.” His words were like a slap…

Humanizing Black Patients

Misconceptions and Fallacies on Race and Medical Treatment The Health Humanities is the study of the intersection of health and humanistic disciplines (such as philosophy, religion, literature)  fine arts, as well as social science research that gives insight to the human condition (such as history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies.)* The Health Humanities use methods…