Sick City Project

'Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be'

The Sick City Project at the City Lit

City LitIn the spring of 2014 I’ll be teaching two courses on the history of science & medicine at the City Lit – London’s leading college of adult education. Both are now open for enrolment, and here are some details:

Sick City: Medicine in London’s History (14 Jan – 25 Mar 2014; course code HS015)

London is a sick city – by geography and history, by chance and necessity. From the malarial creeks of the prehistoric Thames to the stresses and anxieties of modern urban life, sickness and disease have been part of the daily grind for Londoners rich and poor. But the history of medicine in London is much more than the history of the medical profession, their institutions and ideas. It offers a uniquely powerful and moving insight into the lives of Londoners, their hopes and fears, the beliefs that brought them together and the convictions that drove them apart.

We’ll talk about the way in which London’s geography and early history influenced the lives and deaths of its citizens. We’ll learn about the kinds of medicine and surgery practised in the medieval and early modern city, and walk in the footsteps of an Enlightenment medical student. We’ll get a fresh perspective on the Great Plague, courtesy of a great London novelist, and see how the growth of the British Empire brought new challenges for the city’s doctors. We’ll visit the citadels of elite medicine and the Dickensian slums of Victorian London, and discover how London’s famous and infamous have lived – and died.

PLEASE NOTE: this course consists of eleven guided walks, which will begin at various points around London, and will NOT be taking place at the City Lit.

The course is open to all, and no previous knowledge of the subject is required. You should be able to undertake a series of moderately paced two-hour guided walks. Click here for more information and to book.

Apes and Angels: Evolution, Time & Progress in the Nineteenth Century (30 Apr – 25 Jun 2014; course code HS016)

In the course of the nineteenth century, Western ideas about life, the universe and everything were turned upside down. The Earth grew in age from a few thousand to hundreds of millions of years. Life was no longer the creation of a loving god but the result of a seemingly blind natural process. The Industrial Revolution replaced the seasonal rhythms of rural life with a harsher and more disciplined attitude to time and work. And the long aftermath of the French Revolution offered a new and (to many observers) terrifying vision of violent political transformation. In this course of nine lectures we’ll tell the story of this remarkable century, and its lasting influence on British science, politics and culture.

Amongst many other things, we’ll discuss early modern ideas of ‘natural theology’; the emergence of deep time in geology, biology and cosmology; the discovery of human prehistory; evolution before and after Darwin; the globalisation of Western industrial time; and debates over progress and degeneration in science, politics and literature.

The course is open to all, and no previous knowledge of the subject is required, though some understanding of the history of science and / or nineteenth-century European history will of course be useful. Click here for more information and to book.

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