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Subject:

CHMD Research Seminar Reminder, 12 May 2009

From:

"SMITH K.M." <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

SMITH K.M.

Date:

Tue, 5 May 2009 13:43:00 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (67 lines)

The Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease, Durham University,
UK. 
Sponsored by the Northern Centre for the History of Medicine, supported
by the Wellcome Trust, London

Research Seminar Reminder

Tuesday 12 May 2009: Signe Nipper Nielsen (Cambridge University):
'Early modern generation and marvellous conceptions in the anatomist
Thomas Bartholin's (1616-1680) unusual observations' 
5.15pm, Durham University, Queen's Campus, Stockton-on-Tees, Wolfson
Research Institute, Seminar Room

For further information, please visit our webpage at
http://www.dur.ac.uk/chmd/news/ or contact the Centre's
Administrator/Outreach Officer, Katherine Smith,
mailto:[log in to unmask]

For directions to Queen's Campus, Stockton, please visit our webpage at
http://www.dur.ac.uk/chmd/maps/


Abstract

17th century medicine and natural philosophy took a deep interest in
human generation. This also applied to anatomist and natural historian
Thomas Bartholin (1616-1680), professor at the University of Copenhagen.
In his natural observations he was mainly preoccupied with the
extraordinary and curious, and in his many cases concerning human
procreation, the unpredictable and strange aspects of the processes of
generation and the playfulness and creativity of nature stood out.
Bartholin reported on women who gave birth to hens' eggs, rat-like
creatures, strange monstrous births and fleshy masses taking the shape
of trees, bizarre faces, mushrooms and toads. Animals or animal-like
images were also reported to breed in men's bodies, and a foetus had
ostensibly been pregnant with another foetus. 
It is these transgressions of categories together with the confines of
the human body that I will explore in this paper. The products of
generation in the 17th century were thought to be able to take entirely
different and unpredictable shapes and cross the boundaries between
humans and animals, the different natural kingdoms, the sexes and the
inside and outside. This continuous crossing of boundaries must be
understood together with the early modern concept of Nature. Nature was
transformative; it was ingenious, playful and volatile and inclined
towards generating one thing out of another. These were essential
principles in early modern natural history and Bartholin's
investigations in Nature were no exception. When he compared the unborn
child with a walnut, when he let a girl be fathered by a dog, or a goat
give birth to a human being, categories were obstructed and Nature's
playfulness accentuated.


******************
Katherine Smith
Administrator/Outreach Officer

Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease
Wolfson Research Institute
Durham University
Queen's Campus
University Boulevard
Thornaby
Stockton on Tees
TS17 6BH
Tel: + 44 (0)191 3340700
Email: [log in to unmask]

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