Helen King

Death in Vienna and the City of Salt

by Helen King April 10, 2014
Death in Vienna and the City of Salt
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Automata in history

by Helen King March 10, 2014
Automata in history

By Helen King (W&M Monthly Contributor) Do you ever feel your dining table needs cheering up? This week I saw a collection of possibly the last word in ways to impress your dinner guests. I was at the wonderful Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna where the Kunstkammer – a selection from the amazing ‘cabinet of curiosities’ […]

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The ideal midwife?

by Helen King February 10, 2014
The ideal midwife?

By Helen King What do we look for in a midwife? Short nails feature a lot in the history of midwifery! Many images of midwives from the past are very negative, like this one from around 1800. In a previous post, I looked at midwives as murderers. Let’s return to the good sort now. Back […]

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Ancient libraries and their dangers

by Helen King January 10, 2014
Ancient libraries and their dangers

By Helen King Galen was, to put it politely, a bit of a show-off. Since our main source for Galen is Galen himself, this can make it difficult to work out whether he was as great a physician as he makes out. I think the answer has to be that he was; his second-century AD […]

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Pregnancy between East and West

by Helen King December 10, 2013
Pregnancy between East and West

By Helen King (image courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Library and Center for Knowledge Management, University of California, San Francisco) Sometimes you come across an image that really sticks in your mind. I recently attended a workshop on the representation of the womb across time, and one of the papers introduced me to this […]

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The Plague of Athens: dying like sheep?

by Helen King November 10, 2013
The Plague of Athens: dying like sheep?

By Helen King I like sheep. When I was staying in the Netherlands some years ago, I was very excited because we were invited on a trip to what I heard as the ‘Sheep Museum’. Puzzled as to how there could be enough material to fill such a place, I went along enthusiastically, but was […]

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One-sex and two-sex bodies?

by Helen King October 10, 2013
One-sex and two-sex bodies?

by Helen King   Tomorrow is a big day for me; finally, my latest book is published. It’s about the claim that there was a clear division in the history of Western Europe between two models of the body: ‘one-sex’ and ‘two-sex’. In the first model, men and women were seen as having exactly the […]

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Menotoxin – when menstruation can kill?

by Helen King September 10, 2013
Menotoxin - when menstruation can kill?

By Helen King (W&M Regular Contributor) In the 1920s there was a serious medical debate about an invisible substance called ‘menotoxin’. This was believed to exist in menstrual blood; it could blight flowers and prevent jam from setting, and bread from rising. The theory can be seen as a surprising throwback, in the age of […]

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“Call the Midwife” – or knit your own womb

by Helen King August 10, 2013
"Call the Midwife" - or knit your own womb

By Helen King (W&M Regular Contributor) (this post develops an earlier version that first appeared in July 2013 on http://departu.org.uk)   It was one of those moments that only happens when academics and practitioners are in the same room… For about a year, I had been thinking about the history of visual representations of body […]

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Should physicians treat their enemies?

by Helen King June 10, 2013
Should physicians treat their enemies?

 By Helen King   There are a lot of mistaken ideas about the ‘Hippocratic oath’; for   example, that it was written by the real Hippocrates (deeply unlikely – probably written way after his supposed lifetime); that it bans abortion (no, it bans giving an abortive pessary to someone asking for one, so other methods […]

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Fun with pigs

by Helen King May 10, 2013
Fun with pigs

By Helen King   Finally, I understand what it is about dissection… Regular readers will know that, among other things, I’m a visiting professor at a medical school. As a recently-founded medical school, this one does not teach through human dissection. Instead, students learn their anatomy through books, computer simulations, models, and ‘surface anatomy’. The […]

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Life and Death, Pompeii and Herculaneum

by Helen King April 10, 2013

by Helen King   It’s all about the fear… when you never get to eat your daily bread. I made it to Day 1 of the much-awaited British Museum exhibition on these two Roman cities – not because of careful planning but because, when I went online to book, that was simply the first day when slots […]

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Julia Pastrana, ‘bearded lady’

by Helen King March 10, 2013
Julia Pastrana, 'bearded lady'

  by Helen King Lucy Inglis recently posted on the ‘Hottentot Venus’. Last month, there was a big day for the ‘bearded lady’: Julia Pastrana’s body was repatriated to her native Mexico and buried, her coffin covered with white roses. Julia, ‘the world’s ugliest woman’, suffered from excessive hair growth on her face. She was […]

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The history of menstruation

by Helen King February 10, 2013

Julia Margaret Cameron’s Hypatia     By Helen King (W&M Regular Contributor) Everything has a history. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I wrote about menstruation here; my doctoral thesis was on menstruation in classical Greece. One of the questions I couldn’t answer there was ‘What did women actually do about the […]

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The Mummy returns

by Helen King January 10, 2013
The Mummy returns

By Helen King Have you seen the Egyptian mummies in the British Museum? Even if you’ve never been to London, you may have caught the travelling exhibition, ‘Mummy: The Inside Story’, which focuses on the priest Nesperennub, and has so far been seen by nearly 2 million people. Mummies are endlessly fascinating. They give nightmares […]

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