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SCNR Seminar - Dr Hughes Marchal

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Part of the 2020/21 seminar series organised by SCNR and the Centre for Medical and Health Humanities Research Centre.

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'Thanking one’s doctor: the voice of grateful patients in French occasional poetry from 1750 to 1850'

This seminar will be given by Dr Hughes Marchal from the University of Basel.

From the middle of the 18th Century to the end of the July Monarchy, many short poems, signed by patients, gave thanks to the doctors who treated them. Some of these texts remained handwritten. Others were printed in the general press, for instance in the Journal de Paris, or in literary periodicals such as the Almanach des Muses. Some epistles even circulated as small books. Many authors are unknown, but some are famous poets, and the pathologies they mention range from cataract to sexual illnesses.

How massive was this production and what was its social function? Did this occasional poetry have any literary ambition? Did it form a genre, susceptible to variation and innovation? Why make public one’s private gratitude, one’s intimate illness, and why use verse to this aim? Finally, can we distinguish between authentic testimonies and commissioned poems, used as advertising by unscrupulous doctors?

This seminar will take place via Microsoft Teams. Please ensure you book a place to receive the meeting link. The deadline for bookings is 3pm on the day of the seminar (28/04/21).

(Mme Anselme de Valincourt, Épître sur la sensibilité, dédiée à mon médecin, le docteur Taranget, demeurant à Douai, qui m’a guérie en moins de quinze jours, d’une maladie cruelle qui résistoit depuis trois ans à tous les efforts d’une grande partie des médecins de la faculté de Paris [suivi d’] À la citoyenne Anselme [par Taranget], Douai, s. é., an VI-1798 (source = Gallica).)

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