Upcoming Seminars & Events

Seminars take place virtually from 1 - 2:30 PM. Registration is required for the seminars. 

Please note that event times MAY VARY, so be sure to check each individual listing carefully!


Seminar and Events - Winter 2022


March 30, 2022  1-2:30pm  

Kirsten Ostherr, Rice University

The Visual History (and Imagined Future) of Computational Health






March 31, 2022  12-2:00 pm

Barbara Di Gennaro, Yale University

Theriac and Mithridate: Antidotes From and For the State


Galenic pharmacy was one of the most enduring parts of the Galenic medical system, in and of itself one of the most durable medical systems throughout history. In the early modern period, scholars undertook a revision of Galenic materia medica by comparing it to ancient texts and new specimens. Practitioners’ interest in alchemical remedies grew, while previously unknown materia medica from all over the world arrived in European apothecary shops. Yet, Galenic pharmacy not only kept its role in Europe and the Middle East, but also expanded globally. To explain why Galenic pharmacy responded successfully to these challenges this talk investigates two exceptional medical compounds, theriac and mithridate, the most prestigious remedies in Galenic pharmacy since antiquity.

I argue that in Italian Renaissance cities theriac and mithridate acquired political meanings that tied Galenic pharmacy to medical institutions and rulers. Medical and political authorities sponsored public productions of theriac and mithridate which became urban health rituals. Such ceremonies made visible the power of the medical and political hierarchy to protect its subjects from poisons, the plague, and from unreliable remedies. Theriac and mithridate acted on the socialbody: they confirmed the political and medical hierarchy, reassured patients, elevated physicians, and made apothecaries richer. As a consequence, all over Europe apothecaries revived theriac and mithridate—now invested with unprecedented prestige and powers—and exported them to Asia, Africa, and South America, contributing to the early modern expansion of Galenic pharmacy worldwide.




February 23, 2022  1-2:30pm 

Nicole Charles,  University of Toronto

Corporeal Traces and Unsettling Truths

Abstract: This talk explores the not-so-obvious stakes of biomedical modes of care and suspicion toward that care, in the context of postcolonial Barbados and the human papillomavirus vaccine. How might suspicion or hesitancy toward medical and scientific technologies push us away from colonial curative logics and toward life-affirming institutions of care? What are its limits and possibilities toward radical care, then and there, here and now, and transnationally as we reckon with the pandemic’s portal?


March 16, 2022 1-3:00pm

Sebestian Kroupa    

From Indigenous Panaceas to Global Drugs, or, how the Philippine Plant Igasud Became the St Ignatius Bean (c.1670–1750)

My talk examines the European appropriation, commodification, and globalization of the Filipino Indigenous medicinal plant called Igasud. In the early modern era, Igasud emerged as a new drug of choice around the world and became the only substance native to the Philippines to be globally marketed. The plant came from the island of Samar, where Indigenous communities had long used its seeds as a powerful panacea and spiritual object. It was in Samar, in the 1670s, that the Jesuit missionaries learned about the seeds’ powers. The Jesuits rebranded the substance as the beans of St Ignatius, the founder of their order, and successfully marketed it around the world. In this process, they violently erased the manifold Indigenous meanings of Igasud. My talk will follow the trajectory of Igasud from local encounters to global circulations to show how medicinal plants used by Indigenous communities became globally consumed drugs – or how Indigenous knowledge was legitimized as medicine. Building on current efforts to decenter and decolonize Western histories of medicine, I will trace how medical knowledge emerged through negotiations between a wide array of agents, including Filipino female healers, Catholic missionaries, Chinese and Indian traders, and European philosophers.


March 23, 2022 1-3:00pm.   

Melissa Reynolds, Princeton University

Reading Practica: A Material History of Ideas

Around the turn of the fifteenth century, middling English artisans, merchants, priests, and landed farmers found themselves with the means, for the first time, to own a book of medical knowledge. Hundreds, if not thousands, of the manuscripts they filled with medical recipes, herbals, prognostications, and other bits of useful knowledge survive from later medieval England, each one a testament to their owners’ desire to access a tradition of knowledge that had long been confined to Latin. In Part One of this talk, I closely analyze the contents and formal qualities of numerous fifteenth-century English remedy books to show how these manuscripts bridged two ways of thinking about the written word in later medieval England, serving as transitional objects which spurred English people to begin to use writing and their own experiences to shape a centuries-old tradition of medical knowledge. Part Two follows this centuries-old knowledge into printed remedy books, herbals, anatomies, and dietaries, using network analysis to show the lasting legacy of medieval knowledge in early modern England—a legacy that printers did their best to deny through marketing tactics that emphasized novelty and originality. By reconstructing everyday encounters with the seemingly mundane world of vernacular medical books, I show ordinary people learning how to think about their bodies and the world around them, using vernacular manuscripts and cheaply printed books to tell a material history of ideas from below.

Seminar and Events - Winter & Fall 2021

November 17, 2021

Hannah Zeavin, University of California, Berkeley

Absence, Presence, Distance: A [Brief] History of Teletherapy


September 29, 2021

Eugene Richardson, Harvard Medical School

Epidemic Illusions: On the Coloniality of Global Public Health

Watch on YouTube https://youtu.be/iUGlgKbMXnc


May 19 & 20, 2021

Impact of Technological Change Event

Technology and the Patient Consumer: Understanding Medical Choice and Care, 1900-2020

PDF icon ict5_2021_afiche_.pdfPDF icon itc5_2021_-poster.pdf


Watch presentations on YouTube:

INTRODUCTION to ITC5 - 2021 Drs.Thomas Schlich, Samer Faraj, Rachel Elder


TITLE: Technology and the Patient Consumer: Understanding Medical Choice and Care, 1900 to 2020.

TITRE : La technologie et le patient consommateur : comprendre le choix et les soins médicaux, de 1900 à 2020.


Chair/Présidente : Dr. Samer Faraj introduces Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg https://youtu.be/4xZv4-9tEhE

TITLE: Is the Patient the Consumer?

TITRE : Le patient est-il le consommateur ?


Chair/ Présidente : Dr. Jennifer Fishman introduces Dr. Vivien Hamilton: https://youtu.be/YJaWjx-Gw40

TITLE: Scientific Assurance, Dental X-rays, and the Patient Consumer.

TITRE : L'assurance scientifique, les radiographies dentaires et le patient consommateur.


Chair/ Présidente : Dr. Jennifer Fishman introduces Dr Fabiola Creed. https://youtu.be/0FjQQw9MPVs

TITLE: ‘Orange’ or a ‘Rich, Deep and Luxurious Brown’?: The Fake Tan and Sunbed Industry in a War against Skin Cancer in 1990s Britain.

TITRE : « Orange » ou « Marron riche, profond et luxueux » ? : L'industrie des faux bronzages et des lits de bronzage dans une guerre contre le cancer de la peau en Grande-Bretagne des années 1990.


 Chair/ Présidente : Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta introduces Dr. Antoine Lentacker.


TITLE: How to Report a Side Effect? On the Transformations of Web-based Pharmacovigilance.

TITRE :  Comment signaler un effet secondaire ? Sur les transformations de la pharmacovigilance en ligne.


Chair/ Présidente : Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta introduces Christopher Rudeen, PhD Candidate


TITLE: "“Mental health is not Fashion”: Shirts, Stigma, and Consumerism.”

TITRE : « « La santé mentale n'est pas la mode » : chemises, stigmatisation et consumérisme. »


Chair/ Présidente : Dr. Elizabeth MacNamara introduces Dr. Sharra Vostral. https://youtu.be/MPdKgldo7Og

TITLE: Tampons, Technology, & Toxic Shock Syndrome: From Consumer to Patient to Informant.

TITRE : Les Tampons, la technologie et le syndrome du choc toxique : du consommateur au patient à l'informateur.


Chair/ Présidente : Dr. Elizabeth MacNamara introduces Dr. Grazia De Michele: https://youtu.be/_Xq9tLEgTEk

TITLE: “Prevention Doesn’t Come in a Pill”: North American Breast Cancer Activists’ Struggle Against Chemoprevention.

TITRE : « La prévention ne vient pas dans une pilule » : La Lutte des activistes nord-américains contre le cancer du sein contre la chimioprévention.


Chair/ Présidente : Dr. Liane Feldman introduces Dr. Richard M. Mizelle Jr. https://youtu.be/vrdDmwEgIPU

TITLE: The Night Shift: Race and Technological Citizenship in Early Dialysis.

TITRE : Le quart de nuit : race et citoyenneté technologique en dialyse précoce.


Moderator/ Modérateur : Thomas Schlich


TITLE: The closing discussion

TITRE : La discussion de clôture



Would you like us to add your name to our seminar list? E-mail us at ssom [at] mcgill.ca

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