Browsing Arts, Humanities and Education by Subjects
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Clare's mutterings, murmurings, and ramblings: the sounds of healthClare is valued as a poet of direct communication. His poems are filled with Northamptonshire dialect that fosters an instantaneous connection to his local environment, creating an immediate sense of place though sound. Likewise, Clare’s representations of natural sounds, such as the ‘whewing’ of the pewit, the ‘swop’ of the jay bird as it flies, and the ‘chickering crickets’, have a mimetic quality that creates a direct experience of what he hears.1 Seamus Heaney grouped Clare with what he called ‘monoglot geniuses’, meaning that he had a gift for conveying through poetry a ‘univocal homeplace’ that his readers could understand without necessarily belonging to that place themselves.2 However, this idea of Clare as a poet of such direct coherency is complicated by his madness or, specifically, by his repeated usage of a vocalisation which carries connotations of madness. This essay will consider the ways that Clare represents health and madness at the level of sound, by bringing them into relationship with a mode of speaking that recurs throughout his poetry and prose: his use of muttering. It will suggest that Clare’s poetic investment in muttering and the sub-vocal register as both a personalised, therapeutic mode of self-address, and a way to foster a deep poetic relationship with his natural surroundings, comes to complicate his formal representation of health as a clear ‘strong voice’.
Curious Apothecary; An artists publication“Prescriptions” was a juried exhibition of book art to supplement Martha Hall’s exhibition of works as part of Artists’ Books and the Medical Humanities symposium and workshop. The symposium, which launched Prescriptions, explored connections between artists' books, health/illness and medicine from interdisciplinary perspectives. The publication “Curious Apothecary” invites the viewer to create their own interpretation of the curious nature of the medical practices that took place in the 18th century and challenges the traditional processes of illustration through printmaking, while exploring its application in a more contemporary artists book format.
Re-odorization, disease and emotion in mid-nineteenth century EnglandThis article argues that smell’s place in nineteenth-century medicine and public health was distinctly ambiguous. Standard narratives in the history of smell argue that smell became less important in this period whilst also arguing that urban spaces were deodorized. The causal motor for the latter shift is medical theories about odour and miasma. By contrast, this article argues that sanitary practices of circulation, ventilation, and disinfection proceeded despite, not because of, medical attitudes to smell. Surgeons and physicians argued that odours were no indicator of disease causing matter and distrusted the use of smell because of its subjective qualities and resistance to linguistic definition. Yet these qualities made smell all the more powerful in sanitary literature, where it was used to generate a powerful emotional effect on readers. Histories of smell need to attend not just to deodorization but re-odorization; the disjuncture between practices of smelling and their textual or visual representation; and chronologies that track the shelving and re-deploying of ways of sensing in different times, places, and communities rather than tracking the de novo emergence of a modern western sensorium. In mid nineteenth-century England smell retained its power, but that power now came from its rhetorical rather than epistemological force.