The Apothecary’s Chest: Magic, Art and Medication
Editor: Konstantina Georganta, Fabienne Collignon and Anne-Marie Millim
Date Of Publication: Apr 2009
‘The Apothecary’s Chest: Magic, Art and Medication’ was a one-day symposium held at the University of Glasgow on November 24, 2007. The symposium called for a discussion on the evolution of the notions of mysticism, knowledge and superstition in the way they are intertwined in both science and the literary imagination in the figure of healers such as the apothecary, the alchemist, the shaman. There were three main areas of interest. The first involved traditional perceptions of physicians, who combined knowledge and superstition and thus bordered, in their practices, on the sphere of the occult. The second theme, evolving from the first, proposed an inquiry of the overlapping interests and processes of science, magic and prophesy, as well as of the implications and consequences of a privileged access to medical knowledge, while the third subject of discussion concentrated on the development of the symbolism of the healer in literature, history, philosophy of science, anthropology, theology, film and art.
The twelve papers included in this volume, papers presented by doctoral candidates and young scholars from across a range of geographical regions and disciplines, result in a collection of approaches to an investigative field with topics ranging from mystical traits of mundane materials to the origins of the occult and gender struggles. The thirteenth and final essay included in the volume, Professor Bill Herbert’s ‘From Mere Bellies to the Bad Shaman’, is an exploration of the modern role of the contemporary poet in the form of an extended conversation initiated at the closing of the conference, when Professor Herbert was asked to combine a poetry reading with a few observations on the relationship between the poet and the shaman.
Konstantina Georganta is currently completing her PhD thesis at the University of Glasgow on encounters between British and Greek poetry in the first half of the twentieth century. Her thesis focuses on the crisis in the portrayal of national identities, insecure in the multiplicity of their multicultural roots and thus diasporic and hybrid, in post-1922 Europe and considers the work of T.S. Eliot, C.P. Cavafy, W.B. Yeats, Kostes Palamas, John Lehmann, Demetrios Capetanakis and Louis MacNeice. Other interests include the visual culture of political satire for the theatricality it adopts in the depiction of national identities and the development of the notion ‘national’ from the fin-de-siècle onwards.
Fabienne Collignon is currently completing her PhD thesis on US missile culture at the University of Glasgow. She has published articles on Thomas Pynchon and map-space, on the topography of Kansas and the unconscious effects of geography on the psyche, as well as on the Hollow Earth Theory, and has presented papers at international conferences on topics as various as the Kennedy Assassination, Nikola Tesla, missile silos and Stephen King.
Anne-Marie Millim is currently writing up her PhD thesis on the representation of duty in the Victorian diary at the University of Glasgow. Her thesis examines the “silencing of the self” that is characteristic of the diaries of George Eliot, George Gissing, John Ruskin, Elizabeth Eastlake, Henry Crabb Robinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins by investigating the repressive influence of nineteenth-century psychology, work ethic and visual culture. Conference papers include a wide range of topics, such as the Victorian home, Gissing’s escapism, Ruskin’s photographic gesture, as well as his obsession with meteorological phenomena, and Alexander Bain’s advocacy of emotional repression in the context of Victorian ideas of respectability.
“Open up this treasure chest to find twelve essays filled with verve from early-career researchers who are unafraid to revisit old paradigms, who do not shy from the difficult, and who get to grips with complexity in a wonderfully upbeat way. The future of the humanities – history, ethnography, textual scholarship, anthropology, art history – is in good hands as these energetic scholars take on Chicano literature, shamanism, the Renaissance arts of memory, taxidermy, medicinal stones, and more – in a volume that is a reader's delight.”
- Dr Amy Wygant, Senior Lecturer, French Department, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow
“It's difficult to write about magic, more so across material that ranges from Renaissance Europe to twentieth century Mexico. This collection of essays by emerging scholars crosses conventionally disciplinary and conceptual boundaries by collectively offering fresh approaches to what it means for people to engage with the occult, whether through artistic representations, spiritual pursuits or medical practices. The eclecticism of this volume is its strength.”
- Dr Lauren Kassell, Lecturer, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
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