Skip to main content
Biomedicine in museums

Can the historiography of medicine and medical exhibition narratology be brought together? (the case of the history of insomnia)

By January 30, 2008No Comments

Camilla recently reviewed Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition ‘Sleeping and Dreaming’ at 183 Euston Rd, London. Next month (21 Feb) Sonu Shamdasani at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine (three stories higher up in the same house) organises a research workshop titled “Histories of Insomnia” — with presentations by KanWen Ma on insomnia in the history of traditional Chinese medicine, Erin Sullivan on Puritan anxieties toward sleep in seventeenth-century England, Eluned Sumners Bremner on eighteenth-century boredom as a companion of Insomnia, and Kenton Kroker on insomnia as a biomedical problem.

After the papers the workshop participants will “transfer” to the ‘Sleeping and Dreaming’ exhibition. Good idea! As an outsider, however, I cannot avoid feeling that they have lost an opportunity for truly integrating the historiography of medicine and exhibition narratology. Maybe I’m unfair — there may be perfectly good reasons for not doing it in this case — but I nevertheless wonder: If the Wellcome Trust people cannot bring these two exciting approaches to medical history together, who can?

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

More posts by Thomas Söderqvist