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October 11, 2010

History Division News
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» Slaves, Speed Demons, Snake Stones: New Welsh History?

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Why a 'New History of Wales'?

The Western Mail claims to be 'ripping up the stereotypes' for Welsh History Month. Three members of Glamorgan's history division have contributed to the newpaper's 'New History of Wales' series. Drawing on their recent research, they've tackled questions with contemporary resonance.

Did Wales nurture its own brand of science, independent of its neighbours? Alun Withey looks at the case of early modern medicine).

Have the Welsh always been politically engaged, fighting for the downtrodden? Chris Evans examines the Welsh contribution to anti-slavery.

Did Wales ever experience a golden age of morality - and have we now slipped from former high standards to become a 'loutish generation'? (<http: />Andy Croll on manners and morals in South Wales)

This initiative by the Western Mail reflects the huge public appetite for history - but is new academic research, challenging existing impressions, really what's wanted? Is this 'new history' knee-jerk iconoclasm? Is the emphasis on shattering stereotypes just media-friendly rhetoric?

As well as meeting popular demand, the 'New History of Wales' is one of the first public endeavours of History Research Wales, a collaboration between researchers at Welsh universities aiming to maximise results in the sector. These articles show the researcher at work - building on results from earlier historians but also finding ways to probe under-valued sources, to capture new voices from the past. It's this broader and more representative account of historic Wales which makes it possible to speak of a 'New Welsh History'.

March 9, 2010

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» Recipes, Remedies, Receipts: seventeenth-century medicine revealed!

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New Website: Early Modern Remedies

Three hundred years ago, ‘snail water’ and ‘oil of swallows’ were just two out of thousands of everyday remedies that people routinely used to cure their variety of ailments. But where did this knowledge come from?

In the early modern period, every household was a potential storehouse of medical knowledge, with its own tried and trusted remedies. Medical remedies were shared freely from person to person and, in literate households, were often compiled into single volumes. These were valuable and enduring documents, often being handed down, and added to, over generations. For historians, they can provide a unique glimpse into the types of remedies and ingredients used, early modern illnesses and disease names, as well as a wealth of other information about compilers and the world they inhabited.

To coincide with the Wellcome Trust’s digitization of its important collection of these sources, a new website has been developed in conjunction with Warwick University to act as both an introduction to those wishing to find out more about these fascinating documents, and to forge links between groups of historians working on similar themes. The site includes a number of short contextual articles about the seventeenth-century medical world, links to online resources, including digitized collections, and also news and upcoming events. Much is already available, with more to come soon, and you may even spot an entry or two by a familiar Glamorgan historian!

Alun Withey

February 4, 2010

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» Desperate Remedies?

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The History Society Presents ... Alun Withey

What was it like to experience illness or surgery during the seventeenth century? This was a time when trained doctors were rare, surgery excruciatingly painful, if not fatal, and remedies concocted from a dazzling array of plant and animal products. People saw illness as arising from any number of factors, from an imbalance of bodily ‘humours’, planetary activity or even a punishment from God. From today’s standpoint, it seems miraculous that anyone could survive illness; but survive they often did.

In this paper, we will explore something of the experience of illness and surgery during the early modern period. We will look at how people understood illness and their bodies, the types of remedies used to cure them as well as doctors, surgeons and their techniques. While it is easy to poke fun at the sometimes apparently weird cures, we will also look at the ways in which our seventeenth-century predecessors were actually little different to us; they had the same fears about illness, the same desire to rid themselves of painful symptoms and, in some cases, provided us with remedies which are still used today.

Alun Withey is a research assistant at Glamorgan's History Division. He will speak about medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at an event organised by the Glamorgan University History Society: on Tuesday 9th February 2010, 17.00, G308 (Treforest Campus). Admission is free and open to all, and any Glamorgan staff or students interesting in joining the History Society are warmly invited to attend its meeting on the same evening at Rickards Pub Function Room, 19.10. Please contact 03020002@glam.ac.uk for more details.

October 21, 2008

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» Forthcoming paper: Alun Withey on early modern medicine

‘The ‘Dyn Hysbys’ and the Doctor: reassessing the medical history of early modern Wales’

Wednesday 29 October 2008

2.30pm, D121b, University of Glamorgan (Treforest Campus)

Alun Withey graduated with first class honours in History from Glamorgan in 2005 and his undergraduate dissertation was immediately seized for publication by Welsh History Review. He took an M Res at Cardiff and is currently studying for an AHRB-funded PhD at Swansea. His article ‘Unhealthy Neglect? The Medicine and Medical Historiography of Early Modern Wales’ appeared in the Social History of Medicine, vol. 21 no.i, April 2008.

The ‘Dyn Hysbys’ referred to in the title is a cunning man or local wizard.

The paper is hosted by the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Wales. For further details contact Prof Gareth Williams. For directions, click here.

CROESO I BAWB. ALL WELCOME.