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“Illuminated and Unsettled: Literary Forms and Cultural Power, Medieval to Early Modern”: A Pop-Up Exhibition for the 2022 Harvard English Department Bloomfield Conference

Introduction

Geoffrey Chaucer’s (ca.1342–1400) House of Fame is full of incredible images—names carved in ice, Geoffrey clutched in the eagle’s talons—but the one that sticks with us is this: great authors stand on pillars in the goddess Fame’s palace, bearing the reputations of nations and heroes on their shoulders. It is at once impossible to picture (what does a reputation look like?) and impossible to forget. The poet sees Homer, “hy on a piler / Of yren [...] besy for to bere up Troye”; he gazes at Ovid, who “hath ysowen...

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Photographic Memory: Revising the History of Women Physicians at Massachusetts Eye and Ear

The story goes like this: In 1921, Dr. Maud Carvill became the first woman to hold a surgical appointment at the Massachusetts Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary (known today as Mass Eye and Ear, or MEE). She was followed by otolaryngologists Dr. Isabel Kerr in 1922 and Dr. Margaret Noyes Kleinert in 1931. In 1937, Dr. Elizabeth DeBlois joined the ophthalmology department, where she would build a 33-year career in surgery and have an operating room dedicated in her name. None of these women ever rose beyond the rank of assistant surgeon.... Read more about Photographic Memory: Revising the History of Women Physicians at Massachusetts Eye and Ear

“Treat Them Like Your Own Daughters”: Sexual Assault Prevention Training in an Eighteenth-Century Chinese Conduct-of-Life Manual

Introduction

China in the 17th through 19th centuries witnessed an extraordinary flowering of interest in the details of what it might mean to live a moral life. The Buddhist-Confucian-Daoist syncretic tradition (sanjiao yiguan 三教一貫 or sanjiao heyi 三教合一) provided rich intellectual resources for thinking about morality in practice. With the Taishang ganying pian 太上感應篇 (The Treatise of the Most Exalted One on Action and Retribution) as its flagship text,[1]...

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Abdel Rahman Ismail’s Tibb al-Rukka and the Nubian Medicine Bundle: Toward Material Histories of Contagion

ʻAbd al-Raḥmān Ismāʻīl, Folk medicine in modern Egypt: being the relevant parts of Tibb al-Rukka, or Old wives medicine, of Abdel Rahman Ismail, trans. John Walker (London: Luzac, 1934).

Gibb Islamic Seminar Library, Harvard University, Gibb 1405.260.

https://hollis.harvard.edu/permalink/f/1mdq5o5/TN_cdi_globaltitleindex_catalog_66022004

 

Bundle of power elements (Nubian medicine bundle),...

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Microscopic Musings: Athanasius Kircher and the Roman Plague of 1656–57

Athanasius Kircher, Scrutinium physico-medicum contagiosae luis, qui pestis dicatur (Typis Mascardi: Romae, 1658).

Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Rare Books, RC171 .K63 c.1.

https://id.lib.harvard.edu/curiosity/contagion/36-990058668780203941

What does the blood of plague-infected bodies look like under a microscope? Since Alexandre Yersin’s and Kitasato Shibasabur­ō’s simultaneous discovery of the plague bacillus in Hong Kong in 1894, we have a very specific answer to this question because we already know what to look for: a rod-shaped anaerobic microorganism known as Yersinia pestis. Photographs show us what this virulent bacillus looks like in blood and tissue samples examined in the laboratory with high-powered instruments.... Read more about Microscopic Musings: Athanasius Kircher and the Roman Plague of 1656–57

Harold Brodkey's Paper Attachments

Introduction

It’s difficult to think of an American novel with a publication history more complicated than Harold Brodkey’s The Runaway Soul (1991). First contracted by Random House in 1964 but unfinished for nearly three decades, the novel—then known under its working title, A Party of Animals—moved between two other publishing houses before its controversial publication under a new name. The publication history of Brodkey’s novel is so labyrinthian that it is at times difficult to know what’s fact and what’s apocryphal, but the following events demarcate the broad lines of the story.... Read more about Harold Brodkey's Paper Attachments

Introduction to the Project

Why Contagion Now?

The problem of contagion—in which diseases are communicated among people and populations—extends across all times, places, and cultures. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the protean nature of contagion and its effects: illness, suffering, and death; strategies to address and reduce its impacts; and innovations in prevention and treatment. While focused on our current dilemma, the pandemic has also generated a wide recognition of the nature of contagion and the fundamental interactions between biology and society.... Read more about Introduction to the Project

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