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Harvard's Anne Harrington Visits as Melvin Hill Prof

Posted on Friday, April 11, 2014

As a Melvin Hill Visiting Professor, renowned scholar and historian Dr. Anne Harrington, professor for the history of science at Harvard University, will present a public lecture on what the history of medicine has recently taught us about the role culture plays in shaping bodily experiences, including illness.

Harrington's talk, "Culture Under the Skin: Lessons from the History of Medicine," will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, in Albright Auditorium. During her campus visit, which will take place from Wednesday, April 16 to Saturday, April 19, Harrington will meet with students, faculty and other members of the HWS community, as well as make several classroom visits.

As part of her Melvin Hill Professorship, Harrington will meet with students during a question-and-answer session on Thursday, April 17. The session invites pre-health and history majors, as well as other interested students to meet with Harrington that afternoon. The session will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Trinity Hall 305.

"Anne Harrington is one of the most innovative historians of medicine working today, particularly because she is making so much sense out of the way that culture and emotions can specify disease," says Associate Professor of History Matthew Kadane. "We are excited to welcome her to Hobart and William Smith."

Named for Melvin Hill, a greatly respected English Professor at the Colleges, the Visiting Professorship was launched in 1973 to foster the exchange of ideas on campus with scholars and teachers from other institutions. The initial purpose was to expose students and faculty members to a variety of viewpoints within the humanities; to share research, methodologies, and ideas across the campus; and to interact with recognized scholars in the field. Harrington's visit is sponsored by the Office of the Provost.

Kadane notes that Harrington, who currently serves as director of undergraduate studies at Harvard, also is deeply committed to undergraduate education. She currently serves as co-master of Pforzheimer House at Harvard, along with her husband, Dr. John Durant, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum and adjunct professor in the Science, Technology & Society Program.

An expert on the history of medicine, Harrington's scholarly interests focus on the history of psychiatry, neuroscience, and other mind and behavioral sciences. Other research interests include the history of the Catholic healing shrine of Lourdes and the historical meaning of the archive of 7,000 medical records and narratives of extraordinary healings recorded there.

The author of many articles and three books, her distinguished career includes previously co-directing Harvard's Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative; and serving as a consultant for for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mind-Body Interaction. She also served on the Board of the Mind and Life Institute, which is dedicated to cross-cultural exchange and collaboration between the sciences and various contemplative traditions.

Her books include: "Medicine, Mind and the Double Brain" (1987), "Reenchanted Science" (1997) and "The Cure Within, and A History of Mind-Body Medicine" (2007). Harrington, who is founding co-editor of Biosocieties, a journal centered on social science approaches to the life sciences, is currently writing a new book, tentatively titled, "When Minds Fall Ill." She has also published many articles and produced a range of edited collections, including "The Placebo Effect" (1997), "Visions of Compassion" (2000) and "The Dalai Lama at MIT" (2006).

At Harvard, Harrington served as chair of the Department of the History of Science from 2007 to 2010, and as acting department chair in 2012-2013. She earned her Ph.D. in the history of science from Oxford University, and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London, and the University of Freiburg in Germany.    

 


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