On December 7, 2018, History Ph.D. candidate Jeffrey Doolittle gave a paper entitled “‘Efficassimum est Alexandrinum’: Drugs and Efficacy in Early Medieval Latin Pharmacology” at the “Drugs in the Medieval World, ca. 1050-ca. 1400” conference held at the Strand Campus of King’s College London. This two-day conference, organized by Dionysios Stathakopoulos and Petros Bouras-Vallianatos, featured papers on the transcultural transmission of information about materia medica (medical ingredients) during the middle ages and brought together some of the best scholars working on medical texts in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Tibetan sources.
Jeffrey’s paper analyzed the growing connections between drugs, geography and efficacy in a series of related recipe collections in Latin which were extracted from the medical portions of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. Focusing on a set of dental recipes and their subtle changes from manuscript to manuscript, Jeffrey noted that the ninth century marked a dramatic increase in the complexity and precision of new recipes added to older collections. These ninth-century recipe additions also showed a proliferation of the ingredients they required, along with a significant expansion of the medical applications of ingredients sourced from distant regions. These discoveries reflect a subtle rethinking of Pliny’s works along with the spread of new medical assumptions about particular substances and their places of provenance. The papers delivered at the conference are to be published in a forthcoming volume.
On October 24th, the History Department, along with the Modern Language Department hosted Dr. Teresa Fiore, author of Pre -Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Ligations and Colonial Legacies (Fordham University Press, 2017) to speak about Italy’s history of emigration to all continents of the world, as well as its recent history of immigrants coming to Italy. Dr. Fiore is the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. She is an expert in migration studies from a socio-cultural perspective. In particular, she focuses on immigration to Italy and the worldwide Italian diaspora. Her recent book, as well as her talk, emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to research and cultural analysis.
Dr. Fiore’s focus on socioeconomic contexts and cultural texts demonstrate the ways in which Italy is presently ‘pre-occupied’ with its past emigration, as well as colonialism. Dr. Fiore spoke to a room full of captivated students about how “the contemplative understanding of Italian civilization cannot be understood without the rigorous reconsideration of the inflation of its outbound and inbound migrations, as well as its colonialism and imperialism.” From early Italian diaspora to recent demographic stagnation, her presentation linked Italy’s long history of movement.
In her new book, Kirsten Swinth, Ph.D., associate professor of history, examines misperceptions of American feminism’s past. From failed promises of women “having it all” to the contemporary struggle for equal wages for equal work, Swinth’s book exposes how government policies often undermined tenets of the movement known as “second-wave feminism,” which took place from 1960s through the 1970s.
The book, Feminism’s Forgotten Fight: The Unfinished Struggle for Work and Family (Harvard University Press, 2018), argues that second-wave feminists did not fail to deliver on their promises; rather, a conformist society pushed back against far-reaching changes sought by these activists. The book’s arc begins with the intimate sphere of the family in the 1950s and then moves on to larger societal changes where two-income families became the unavoidable economic norm.
“My focus is on the story of a broad feminist vision that wasn’t fully realized,” said Swinth. “There were a lot of gains generally, but the movement also generated an antifeminist backlash so that most of the aspirations, like a sane and sustainable balance for work and family, were defeated.” (Full article available at link below)