Soaking up the rays forges a new path for exploring Britain’s fickle love of the light by investigating the beginnings of light therapy in the country from c.1890-1940. Despite rapidly becoming a leading treatment for tuberculosis, rickets and other infections and skin diseases, light therapy was a contentious medical practice. Bodily exposure to light, whether for therapeutic or aesthetic ends, persists as a contested subject to this day: recommended to counter psoriasis and other skin conditions as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression; closely linked to notions of beauty, happiness and well-being, fuelling tourism to sunny locales abroad and the tanning industry at home; and yet with repeated health warnings that it is a dangerous carcinogen. By analysing archival photographs, illustrated medical texts, advertisements, lamps, and goggles and their visual representation of how light acted upon the body, Woloshyn assesses their complicated contribution to the founding of light therapy. Soaking up the rays will appeal to those intrigued by medicine’s visual culture, especially academics and students of the histories of art and visual culture, material cultures, medicine, science and technology, and popular culture.
Measuring difference, numbering normal provides a detailed study of the technological construction of disability by examining how the audiometer and spirometer were used to create numerical proxies for invisible and inarticulable experiences. Measurements, and their manipulation, have been underestimated as crucial historical forces motivating and guiding the way we think about disability. Using measurement technology as a lens, this book draws together several existing discussions on disability, healthcare, medical practice, embodiment and emerging medical and scientific technologies at the turn of the twentieth century. As such, this work connects several important and usually separate academic subject areas and historical specialisms. The standards embedded in instrumentation created strict but ultimately arbitrary thresholds of normalcy and abnormalcy. Considering these standards from a long historical perspective reveals how these dividing lines shifted when pushed. The central thesis of this book is that health measurements are given artificial authority if they are particularly amenable to calculability and easy measurement. These measurement processes were perpetuated and perfected in the interwar years in Britain as the previously invisible limits of the body were made visible and measurable. Determination to consider body processes as quantifiable was driven by the need to compensate for disability occasioned by warfare or industry. This focus thus draws attention to the biopower associated with systems, which has emerged as a central area of concern for modern healthcare in the second decade of the twenty-first century.
them into broader developments in sensory history and medicalhumanities. 13 In this chapter, space and place
provide a focus for examining the NHS as something which ebbs and flows throughout
peoples’ lives – across space, place, and time. In this framework, space and
place are both temporal and multi-dimensional, yet are central to analysis of cultural
memory and meaning, illustrating how, as historians, we can centre the NHS in the history of
the UK since 1948. 14
By incorporating personal
Contextualising colonial and post-colonial nursing
what is particular and what is more universal about nursing’s uptake and development in different countries,
but also enables us to explore different methodological approaches
Helen Sweet and Sue Hawkins
to the subject, as has already been the case with the fast-developing
field of ‘medicalhumanities’ for some time. This multifaceted view
of colonial and post-colonial nursing, therefore, brings together contributions from scholars working in different disciplines and from a
variety of perspectives, geographical, historiographical and, to some
any kind of solution – an oft-repeated criticism of medicalhumanities researches. Nonetheless, the prevalent assumption in the clinic is that patients’ sensory experience of a symptom is directly related to measurable physiological disease. Indeed, the paradigm of symptom assessment following through consequent diagnosis depends on our faith that the relationship between symptom experience and measurement is accurate. 13 While I am not advocating for an enduring state of pessimistic meta-induction in which we are unable to trust in scientific progress because of
looked to influential scholars of art history and visual culture, especially
those with interests in the history of medicine and the medicalhumanities. 57
Championing visual approaches to enrich our understanding of medicine, as
Jordanova has called for, Soaking Up the Rays urges scholars with an
interest in medical history to pay closer attention to its visual culture.
For fascinating new sensory histories, see for example Victoria Bates, ‘Sensing Space and Making Place: The Hospital and
Therapeutic Landscapes in Two Cancer Narratives’, MedicalHumanities , vol. 45
(2019), pp. 10–20 ; Claire Hickman, Therapeutic Landscapes: A History of
English Hospital Gardens since 1800 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013);
Claire Hickman, ‘Cheerful Prospects and Tranquil Restoration: The Visual Experience
of Landscape as Part of the Therapeutic Regime of the British Asylum
, and finally, we are focusing on futures, both imagined and made, as crafting projects rooted in practice (Adam and Groves 2007 ). There is a long and fascinating tradition of scholarship which investigates imaginaries and expectations as meta-discourses that perform the sociotechnical economy, establishing new markets and innovation (Hedgecoe and Martin 2003 ; Selin 2008 ; Tutton 2012 ; Jasanoff 2015 ; Brown and Rappert 2017 ). Medicalhumanities and the sociology of health and illness both have a rich seam of research on survivorship and identity-work where
of historians and researchers in the medicalhumanities have drawn attention to the ‘rich and complex interplay’ between various scientific and cultural ‘languages and systems of representation’ operating in the late nineteenth century.
The fin-de-siècle preoccupation with fatigue is here treated in these terms: not simply as the consequence of certain scientific ideas or empirical findings, nor as an isolated cultural phenomenon, but as the result of a complex exchange of ideas, images, and concepts
Balance, malleability and anthropology: historical contexts
provoke the behaviour of adolescents.
What I am instead arguing is that a certain strand of thinking about malleability becomes influential and intertwined with certain philosophical approaches in the history of medicine and wider medicalhumanities. Cohn describes a certain kind of anthropological history, reading it explicitly against ideas of ‘nature’:
All culture is constructed. It is the product of human thought. This product may over time become fixed ways