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Light Technologies: the Materialisation of Light Therapeutics, c.1890 to the Present

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Modern Records Centre (Warwick)


Convened by Dr Tania Woloshyn (CHM - Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Medical Humanities)


This interdisciplinary workshop brought together scholars in the histories of medicine and visual culture with specialisms in light therapeutics, radiation and radiology, photography, and medical technologies. Drawn by a shared interest in perceptions - both historic and contemporary - of light as curative and transformative, speakers and delegates met for a focused session exploring the historic development of heliotherapy (sun therapy), phototherapy (artificial light therapy), and radiotherapy (X-ray therapy). Particular emphasis was placed on the visual and material cultures that defined and disseminated understandings of these therapies, especially images produced through photography (itself a light technology), as well as the diverse range of lamps, textbooks, pamphlets and advertisements that packaged light as a valuable commodity, for the individual and the nation.

Speakers Included:

Roberta Bivins (Warwick): 'Colour, Culture and Light in the Imagery of Late Twentieth-Century Rickets'

Simon Carter (Open University): 'The Medicalization of Sunlight in the Early Twentieth Century'

Annie Jamieson (Leeds): '“Elves of Light”: the Role of Specialist Nurses in fin de siècle Light Treatments'

Melissa Miles (Monash): 'Light, Health and National Identity in Modern Australian Photography'

James Stark (Leeds): '“Women adore it, Men admire it”: The Hanovia-Kromayer Collaboration and Phototherapy'

Sophia Zweifel (Independent scholar): 'Matter of Destruction: Representing the Atomic and Photographic Trace'