Mistaking histories

Back in 2011, I entered the world of blogging via the now-defunct collective blog, wondersandmarvels.com. I enjoyed sharing ideas both there and in other contexts, ideas about the history of the body and of medicine; highlights of the last few years include teaching school students on a ‘Roman Medicine’ themed day, lecturing surrounded by body parts in jars at the Bart’s Pathology Museum, and talking to heart surgeons while ostensibly lecturing on Leonardo da Vinci at the Royal Galleries at Holyroodhouse. I also like writing for publication: my most recent book is The One-Sex Body on Trial: The Classical and Early Modern Evidence (Ashgate, 2013) and, as part of my commitment to distance learning, I’ve also written a MOOC on ‘Health and Wellness in the Ancient World’.

I’m taking the opportunity to repost some of my work here, around the theme of history and how we do it (well). Most of the history on which I work concerns medicine and the body, where ‘taking a history’ is an accepted phrase for the process by which the doctor creates meaning from the patient’s story. As historians, we do this too, although we may make a complete mess out of it because we want to tell a story which works for us, rather than trying to understand what it all meant way back when. Hence, ‘mistaking histories’…

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