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Department of History|College of Arts & Sciences

From Alchemy & Magic to Modern Day Medicine

Goode Symposium in the Humanities

19-20 September 2013

Sponsored by the Goode Family Excellence Fund in Humanities, Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research, and Gladys Crane Film Fund. Hosted by the departments of English, History, Modern & Classical Languages, Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Thursday, September 19, Classroom Building, Room 142

  • 2:00 p.m., Dr. William Eamon of New Mexico State University, will present "Medicine as a Hunt: The Pursuit of Secrets in Renaissance Science"
    • Abstract: Basically, I aimed to incorporate some of the themes you suggested, about medicine, language, and so forth. I'm going to talk about the metaphor of science/medicine as a hunt in the Renaissance and its implications for early modern medicine and natural history.
  • 3:30 p.m., Reception
  • 4:00 p.m., Dr. John Slater of University of Colorado-Boulder, will present "Medical Satire & the Language of Alchemy in 17th Century Spain”
    • Abstract: For the past 50 years, historians of science have understood the emergence of alchemical or chemical medicine during the 1680's to signal the dawn of scientific modernity in Spain.  At the same time, literary historians traditionally have identified the death of Pedro Calderón de la Barca in 1681 as marking the end of the Golden Age. It is, in some dubious tellings, as if the embers of artistic and literary greatness had to be extinguished in order to permit the flourishing of something innovative, international, and properly scientific.  Viewing the Spanish Baroque as an impediment to scientific and medical development overlooks the role that important writers—playwrights, preachers, and poets—played in making possible novel therapeutic practices related to chemical medicine.  Drawing on the works of Quevedo and Calderón, among others, this talk will examine how medical satire and dramatic tropes helped facilitate new medical and alchemical practices, as well as create rhetorical spaces for new alchemical discourses
  • 7:30 p.m., Movie "Roujin Z", Classroom Building, Room 133
    • This film is a savage satire about healthcare for the aged in the 21st century. As the story opens, scientists are alarmed that there are too many old people. A group of scientists and hospital administrators, under the direction of the Ministry of Public Welfare, develop a computerized hospital bed with robotic features. The Z-001 takes complete care of the patient and is driven by its own built-in nuclear power reactor. A compassionate young nurse, determined to help an elderly man strapped to one of these revolutionary healthcare beds, starts a series of unexpected consequences. Thus begins a wild chase through the busy streets of Tokyo as the supercomputer/bed/life-support system begins to have the personality of the old man's ex-wife (who just wants to spend the afternoon at the beach) as the government's secret project unfolds.  Written by major anime figure Katsuhiro Otomo, whose “Akira” (1990) was an animated vision of a nightmare future urban world.

Friday, September 20, Classroom Building, Room 142

  • 10:00 a.m., Dr. Amy Vidali of University of Colorado-Boulder, will present "Tipping the Pain Scale: Past and Present Narratives of Gastrointestinal Disorder and Distress”
    • Abstract: This talk considers representations of gastrointestinal disorder and distress in women by examining nineteenth century and contemporary medical discourse, with attention to the loss of patient narrative in an age of pain assessment, and the role of advertisements that encourage women to self-diagnose and cure loosely-identified GI problems.

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