The Culture, Society and Medicine, Seminar Series, 2017-18 welcomes Prof Brian Hurwitz, talking about 'How an Essay Transformed a Disease in 1817'.

How an Essay Transformed a Disease in 1817 

James Parkinson’s An Essay on the Shaking Palsy (1817) re-formulated an array of human dysmobilities as a single species of disease. Drawing on clinical and outdoor observations the Essay characterized a hitherto unrecognized disorder of shaking, posture and gait, by fusing together case-descriptions to create an affecting generic account of the disease. My talk will examine the textual machinery Parkinson deployed to create this new narrative of a disorder, which draws on sentimental writing and political pamphleteering, and will situate its contribution in the context of earlier accounts of shaking palsies.

Prof Brian Hurwitz directs the Centre for the Humanities and Health at King’s College London, which offers research training at masters, PhD and postdoctoral levels. Based in the Department of English, Brian’s research interests include narrative studies in relation to medical practice and the logic and literary form of clinical case reports. He holds honorary chairs at the Institute of Neurology at UCL, and in the universities of Sydney and Hong Kong. Prior to his current position he was Professor of Primary Care and General Practice at Imperial College London.

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