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In Defence of Experimental Medicine: Emotional Appeals and Medical Didacticism in Germany,Britain and North America, 1870-1914

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IDEM (In Defence of Experimental Medicine: Emotional Appeals and Medical Didacticism in Germany,Britain and North America, 1870-1914)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2019-07-31

IDEM focuses on the strategic defence of experimental medicine in Britain, Germany and the United States, 1870-1914. At its core is the question of humanity as a medical practice, seen through two distinct lenses. First, that of medical scientists, who, through the organisation and delivery of a strategic defence of their profession, transformed experimental endeavour into an experience of sympathy or humanity that defined or characterised their expertise. Second, the lay public, whose support was deemed crucial for allowing medical experimentation to remain unchecked by anti-scientific interests, embodied chiefly by a well-organised anti-vivisection campaign. As such, the public was asked not merely to trust medical scientists, but to feel with them. IDEM explores how this emotional education was carried out, and with what success.


1. To explore techniques and strategies of the medical establishment in defending experimental medicine to the lay public, in England, Germany and North America, 1870-1914.
2. To reveal ways this involved transnational networks to represent an orthodoxy of medical endeavour.
3. To assess importance of gendered affective appeals as part of dissemination of medical knowledge.
4. To analyse the extent to which these strategies altered the status of medical institutions and medical personalities into a) political agents and b) public bodies.
5. To assess the extent to which emotional responses to experimental changed (both in lay society and professional).
6. To further develop the theoretical and methodological rigour that stems from the history of emotions -- to fashioning a new methodology for the history of experience.
7. To operationalise this history of experience through IDEM’s principal empirical research project.

This historical work has a contemporary relevance, serving as a point of reflection for the European medical establishment, contributing to a broader understanding of how questions of health and wellbeing are constructed and packaged for the lay public, and how the lay public receive such questions. IDEM enters into critical engagement with emotion science by making a direction contribution to the understanding of human emotions as biocultural constructions. The premise that the human brain is both cultural and historical artifact undergirds the work.
"Project blog:
Experiment exhibition at Osler Library: after fire, significant water damage closed the collection indefinitely. Exhibition re-scheduled for May 2020, in main library at McGill.
Presented at European Social Science History Conference, April 2018.
Presented at History of Emotions Conference at George Mason University, June 2018.
Presented at Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference, Liverpool, July 2018.
""Vaccination: Fame, Fear and Controversy"" exhibition curated and installed at McGill Library (Jan-April 2018).
Teaching, Jan-April 2018, Hist 410, Impacts of Darwinism, McGill.
Presented at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, March 2018.
Presented plenary address at History of Emotions conference at Universite de Montreal (March 2018).
Research trip to Rockefeller Archive Center, New York, May 2018.
Large set of digital photographs from the Countway Library for the History of Medicine processed (Jan 2018).
Proposal submitted to Cambridge University Press for IDEM monograph. Under contract. Deadline for delivery July 31, 2020.
Vernissage held (Feb 2018) to present Vaccination exhibition to public audience at Rare Books, McGill University Library.
Presented at History of Medicine and Science Seminar, University of Durham (June 2018), via Skype.
Teaching, Graduate Summer Programme in Critical Neuroscience in Dept of Psychiatry at McGill. (June 2018).
Presented at Swiss Center for Affective Sciences summer school in Affective Sciences. July, 2018. Resulted in publication in ""Developmental Psychology"" (Sept 2019).
Research trip, Wellcome Library, London (July 2018).
Presented at Emotional Knowledge Workshop, University of Sussex (August 2018).
Presented research seminar at SSOM (October 2018).
Presented at Piroska Nagy's research seminar on the history of emotions (December 2018).
Presented at Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at McGill (Jan 2019).
""A History of Feelings"" book published, January 2019.
Presented at Culture, Mind, Brain seminar series at McGill (Feb 2019). Resulted in publication on historical brain (forthcoming).
Presented at theory and methods conference at the Centre for the History of Experience at the University of Tampere, Finland (March, 2019).
Presented at Affect Studies group, Columbia University, and Explorations in the Medical Humanities conference, Columbia University (March 2019).
Invited to co-author book (with Mark Smith) to theorize new history of experience. Contract signed with Cambridge University Press, delivery Spring 2020.
Presented at Canadian Society for the History of Medicine in Vancouver (June 2019).
Invited to edited a special issue of Emotion Review on the history of emotions, delivery Sept, 2019.
Invited to present at QMUL Centre for the History of Emotons, Nov 2019; history of emotions conference in Dublin, Jan 2020; History of medicine and disease + emotions conference in Berlin, Jan 2020; Emotions and the City conference, Montreal, June 2020; NACHE conference, George Mason U, June 2020; organised panel for NECBS, Montreal, Oct 2019.
A monograph on the strategic defence of experimental medicine is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Striking distinctions have emerged in the handling of the defence of experiment among the three national contexts.The distinction between British and American responses to anti-vivisectionism is more stark than expected, with the British increasingly relying upon lay support to bolster scientific claims of humanity, and the American medical establishment explicitly eschewing such lay support as unhelpful and unnecessary. This highlights a clear difference in professional, social and affective cultures, made all the more interesting because of their complex international entanglement.

The main progress beyond the state of the art lies in the methodological and theoretical developments that facilitate the writing of the principal monograph. New interdisciplinary networks and audiences have further emphasised historical biocultural construction of emotion and experience. New relationships with the McGill Division of Transcultural Psychiatry, the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit, and the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, have created dialogues with scholars and practitioners directly involved in scientific research on emotion and experience, into which historical practice enters as a new critical voice, exhorting researchers to embrace an historical interdisciplinarity in questions of emotion, sense, experience, subjectivity and collectivity.

The potential impact is to radically alter orthodoxies of knowledge about what emotion is, with implications for a massive interdisciplinary research area, for policy concerning emotional development and education, and for clinical assumptions about the importance of emotion as both experience of illness and disease and as mitigating factor in treatment. The expectation is that IDEM’s theoretical and methodological innovations and interventions will outreach the historical monograph that it has been designed to facilitate.
Vivisection Research Life Net, Puck, 1911