Works-in-Progress Seminars

What is a Works-in-Progress seminar?

The objective of WIPS is to provide an informal intellectual forum where grad students, post-docs, and visiting scholars and researchers can present and discuss their work (dissertation and book chapters and proposals, conference papers, articles, and other intellectual endeavors). WIPS is open to everyone, and we welcome your participation and support.

Who is invited?

Graduate students, faculty, postdocs and all those with an interest in the Social Studies of Medicine.

When and where are the seminars?

Seminars are held in rooms 101 or 102 over a lunch hour in 3647 Peel Street. We keep it to an hour, although we encourage those who can to stay longer to continue the conversation. For specific seminar listings, please consult the below. It will be updated frequently. 

Who can I contact for more information?

Andrea Tone at andrea.tone [at] 


Wednesday June 13, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Who: Adam Hedgecoe

Title: Research ethics review – towards a social theory of risk

Abstract: Traditional discussions of how research ethics review bodies (IRBs/RECs etc.) assess the risk of proposed research projects place their focus on the nature of the interventions that are being proposed, and, to a lesser extent, on the characteristics of the population being investigated. Thus, research that involves injecting participants with previously untested drugs, or the use of radiation, might be deemed to be risky, as might research on children or pregnant women. Drawing on ethnographic research in NHS research ethics committees (RECs), this paper challenges such a largely asocial approach to understanding research risk. I explore how RECs place an assessment of a researcher’s character and trustworthiness at the center of their risk assessment, highlighting the need to develop a social theory of research risk.


Wednesday January 25th, 2017 at 12:30 PM

3647 Peel Street,  Seminar room 101

Feel free to bring your lunch!

Who: Alexandra Bacopoulos-Viau 

Title: Automatism, Surrealism, and the Making of French Psychopathology: The Case of Pierre Janet

Abstract: This paper explores the intellectual influences behind poet André Breton’s classic articulation of a “pure psychic automatism” in the 1924 Surrealist Manifesto. It questions the widespread view that Breton based his conception of the Surrealist method on Sigmund Freud’s “talking cure” and shows that he was in fact highly influenced by Pierre Janet, a prominent turn-of-the-century psychopathologist whom Breton had read and annotated as a medical student. Why then did Breton, in his mythical love affair with Freudianism, systematically silence his indebtedness to the Janetian model of the mind? To examine this question, we turn to a little-studied theme: Janet’s increasing distance from Spiritism and psychical research. In seeking to establish his discipline within a medical framework, Janet erected barriers between the new psychological sciences and such seemingly “extra-scientific” fields. In so doing, he placed himself at odds with other members of the intellectual community who saw in the automatic manifestations of the mind a source of exalted creativity.

Wednesday April 30th, 2014 at 12:30 to 1:30 pm

3647 Peel Street,  Seminar room 102

Feel free to bring your lunch!

Who: Ariel Zimerman 

Title: "A Marriage of  Convenience : How  Editors & Clinical  Epidemiologists  Joined Together  to Standardize  Medical Journals and Create  Evidence Based Medicine, 1981-1992."

Abstract: This paper examines the close relation that developed between a group of medical journal editors based in the United States, Canada and Britain, and clinical epidemiologists in the department of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster University, Hamilton Canada, from 1981 to 1992. This cooperation produced three significant innovations: the introduction of the structured abstract as part of a wider standardization of medical journals; the creation of a new form of medical journals designed to evaluate the medical literature, and the creation of Evidence-Based Medicine. Each of these is pivotal in today’s medical literature and clinical practice.

Wednesday April 2nd, 2014 at 12:30 to 1:30 pm

3647 Peel Street,  Seminar room 102

Feel free to bring your lunch!

Who: Susanne Michl

Title: "Personalized Medicine - A New Era  in Medical Practice? A Historical Perspective"

Abstract: It has been fifteen years since the ‘new’ era of medicine was proclaimed by two science journalists Robert Langreth and Michael Waldholz in the Wall Street Journal. Since then, personalized medicine (PM) has provided a powerful language through which significant change in medical practice has been imagined and in which the interests of various actors in politics, economics, science and patient organisation seem to converge. Given that scholars associated with the social science of technology have prioritized the role of expectation in the shaping of new technologies, a historical perspective on current (and futuristic) phenomena such as PM would, at first glance, seem incongruous.  Nevertheless, I would like to suggest and discuss two areas in which a historical or a historically-informed analysis is helpful: (1) analyzing and interrogating the construction of genealogies of PM in medical literature by showing a specific way of connecting past, present and future; (2) analyzing the continuing significance of some longstanding patterns in the field of medical research and practice (e.g.  the focus on the biological individuality as a key category of (bio-)medicine), and their influence on past visions of the medical future.

Wednesday March 19th, 2014 at 12:30 to 1:30 pm

3647 Peel Street,  Seminar room 102

 Feel free to bring your lunch!

Who:Nils Hansson

 Title: "Nobel Prize nominations of and by cutting-edge-surgeons 1901-1951: What can we learn from them?"

Abstract:The archive of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine is a remarkable and underused repository that contains correspondence, reports, and dossiers of the nominations of senior and junior physicians from around the world. Although this archive has begun to be used more by scholars, it has been insufficiently examined by historians of surgery.  In this talk, I will present some preliminary results from my study on Nobel Prize nominations of surgeons and raise questions about scientific priority disputes in German surgery in the first half of the 20th century.

 Monday, April 11th,2011 at 12:30 to 1:30 pm 3647 Peel Street, Don Bates Seminar room 101

Feel free to bring your lunch!

Who: Tess Lanzarotta

"Before Betty Ford: Explaining the Panic over Female Alcoholism"

Abstract: This paper seeks to explain the growth in media and medical interest in female alcoholism that began in the United States in the mid-1960s. Newspaper headlines informed Americans that women were entering the drinking population, becoming alcoholics, and seeking treatment in growing numbers. Meanwhile, alcoholism researchers increasingly published clinical studies on the behavior and characteristics of female alcoholics in an attempt to understand this seemingly new population of problem drinkers. I hope to outline the complex forces that shaped the emerging figure of the female alcoholic and explain how a disease long associated with men suddenly became one of women as well.

 Wednesday, March 16,2011 at 12:30 to 1:30 pm,

3647 Peel Street, Don Bates Seminar room 101
Feel free to bring your lunch!

Who: Dr. Susan Lamb
Post-doc, History/Social Studies of Medicine

"Pathologist of the Mind: Adolf Meyer & the Origins of American Psychiatry"

Abstract: Drawn from my recently completed doctoral dissertation, this presentation explores Adolf Meyer’s influential but little-understood model of clinical psychiatry using examples taken from his daily interactions with his staff, patients, and their families. I utilize the individual experiences of those who worked and lived inside his famous clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital to provide a clear illustration of Meyer’s "psychobiological" theory, clinical techniques, and therapies to elucidate the internal logic and inconsistencies of the Meyerian model.

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