Virginia Tech Offers Medical History Workshop

540
Two nurses join a doctor in modeling the electrical treatment and x-ray room in King George Military Hospital, London, England, in 1915.
Two nurses join a doctor in modeling the electrical treatment and x-ray room in King George Military Hospital, London, England, in 1915. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.

Members of the Department of History in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences will lead a national workshop on emerging approaches to the analysis of medical images and texts.

Funded through a cooperative agreement from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the free workshop, Images and Texts in Medical History, will take place April 11–13, 2016, at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.

“This workshop is designed to provide faculty and graduate students in the history of medicine with an opportunity to learn new tools and techniques from leading practitioners of the digital humanities,” said E. Thomas Ewing, the workshop director and a history professor at Virginia Tech. “This workshop is an example of Virginia Tech’s commitment to interdisciplinary research in the health sciences that connects the humanities to fundamental questions about the spread of disease, the rise of medical professions, and cultural definitions of illness and health.”

Also collaborating with Virginia Tech, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Library of Medicine on the workshop are Great Britain’s Wellcome Library, one of the world’s leading repositories of medical history; the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving improvements in human and animal health; and the American Association for the History of Medicine.

“As a collaboration that brings together major humanities and STEM-funding agencies, and draws on two of the world’s great history of science libraries, this workshop promotes the innovative collaboration that defines the best work in the digital humanities,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “This workshop also exemplifies Virginia Tech’s leading role in the digital humanities and commitment to bringing together technological innovation and human achievement. We are grateful for this opportunity to help advance interdisciplinary humanities research in medical history.”

In addition to Ewing, Virginia Tech participants will include Amy Nelson, an associate professor of history, and Claire Gogan and Jonathan MacDonald, graduate research assistants in the Department of History.

The Office of Digital Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities recently funded several other Virginia Tech projects on the history of medicine, all under Ewing’s direction: research into the Russian flu epidemic of the late 19th century; a 2015 summer seminar for teachers, The Spanish Influenza of 1918; and a Digging into Data Challenge Grant for An Epidemiology of Information, a project that developed data mining methods to track the spread of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

In addition, the National Endowment for the Humanities recently awarded Virginia Tech with grants for two 2016 programs: the Summer Institute on Veterans in Society: Ambiguities and Representations and the Summer Seminar on Race and Mental Health in History and Literature.