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Science, Medicine & Health

Investigator: Larry Geary Researcher: Oonagh Walsh

This project seeks to explore the impacts of epidemic disease in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It will examine the response of the State to periodic disease epidemics, specifically fever and cholera, as well as to outbreaks of endemic diseases such as influenza, dysentery, ophthalmia, and tuberculosis. It will also address the reactions of philanthropic organisations and special interest groups, particularly to the social impact of these diseases. The project will position itself at the interface between medicine and society, and interrogate the often conflicting approaches taken by each.

The key achievements of this strand include:

  • The hosting of an international conference on ‘The Epidemic in Modern History’ at UCC on November 6th and 7th, 2009. The conference attracted over 30 speakers from the USA, Continental Europe and Ireland, and a book proposal based on the proceedings is currently under consideration by Palgrave Press. Contributors include Prof. Hugh Pennington (Aberdeen University); Prof. Ivan Perry (UCC), and Prof. David Gentilcore (Leicester University).
  • The hosting of the annual Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland conference at UCC on June 17th and 18th, 2010. This meeting, on the theme of ‘Philanthropy’, included papers on science, medicine and health. A selection will be published by Four Courts Press in 2012.
  • The establishment of the Consortium for Medical Humanities in March, 2010. The consortium comprises research active academics with interests in medical humanities and the history of medicine from University College Cork, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Limerick. Building upon work undertaken as part of this PRTLI project, the consortium seeks to drive an interdisciplinary and collaborative research agenda that builds upon projects such as the IRCHSS funded ‘From the Cradle to the Grave: Lifecycles in Modern Ireland’ digitising initiative.
  • The organisation of a workshop in Medical Humanities at UCC on November 9th, 2010. The keynote speaker will be Prof. Martyn Evans, Professor of Humanities in Medicine and Co-Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University. The meeting will address both the importance of medical humanities in the curriculum, and explore new directions in the field.
  • Planning is at an advanced stage for a Lewis Glucksman Gallery for a joint exhibition entitled ‘Public Exposure: disfigurement and disease in art and media’. Part of the public engagement element of the project, this exhibition (see flyer) seeks to examine changing attitudes towards disfigurement and disease in society, and to draw together historic and creative interrogations of responses to disability.

Funded by PRTLI Cycle 4

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF