birth, dissection, midwives, museums and collections, womb

The skull inside the doll…

Webster was much possessed by death And saw the skull beneath the skin... (T.S. Eliot, Whispers of Immortality) I was very excited when the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (@RCPEHeritage) tweeted pictures today illustrating that they have been ‘X-raying two of our circa 18thc midwifery manikins (also known as ‘phantoms’) – to discover that… Continue reading The skull inside the doll…

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Bad History, doctors, gender, internet, midwives, museums and collections

Exhibiting our past: “This Vexed Question”

There's been a lot of interest online in a temporary exhibition which has recently opened at the Royal College of Physicians in London: "This Vexed Question: 500 years of women in medicine". I was disturbed by some of the media reports, in particular one in Culture Trip which started with the comment that the RCP was 'dissecting… Continue reading Exhibiting our past: “This Vexed Question”

Bad History, Hippocrates, hysteria, internet

Quote/unquote: basic errors in using the internet for doing history

Just occasionally, even I am shocked at how people don't bother to look at the basics when using a web page as evidence for their arguments: who wrote this? when did they write it? what's their evidence? are they using that evidence properly? This happened today. I was engaging in one of those chats on Twitter… Continue reading Quote/unquote: basic errors in using the internet for doing history

Bad History, Galen, Hippocrates, hysteria, sex, womb

Hysteria from Hippocrates

(updated 19 July 2018 - and, thanks to Minji Lee of Rice University, subsequently available in Korean here) Please can we just get something out of the way once and for all? The disease of 'hysteria' was neither described nor named by Hippocrates. I know The Sun says it was, but it's wrong. And it's… Continue reading Hysteria from Hippocrates

gender, religion

Pandora: the Greek Eve?

(John William Waterhouse, Pandora, 1896) In the beginning, there was – a man. Later, there was also a woman. That’s the basic plot of both the Judaeo-Christian and the ancient Greek creation stories, with woman as a late arrival on the scene. In the first of these Mediterranean traditions, woman is made from man – specifically,… Continue reading Pandora: the Greek Eve?