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The Weston Library’s next exhibition based on MSD research: Melancholy: a new anatomy

The exhibition Melancholy: a new anatomy, which opens in July 2021, takes a new look at The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton in this the 400th anniversary of its date of publication. It is led by Professor John Geddes and curated by colleagues from the Department of Psychiatry and the English Faculty.

As well as anatomizing melancholy, Burton considers the cures for the condition. He looks to the cures of melancholy and among them he identifies “Mirth and merry Company, faire Objects, Remedies.” This last word, remedies, is the main focus of the exhibition which promises to demonstrate the ways in which pleasurable activities and communal participation can support positive mental health.

Topics include Bibliotherapy (therapeutic reading) and Scriptotherapy (therapeutic writing about traumatic or painful experiences), as well as diet, sleep, faith, exercise, and the concept of greenspace in mental health.

A section on health and disease will also be included to show changing attitudes and knowledge towards medicine and mental health over time.

The curators of this exhibition are:

  • Gulamabbas Abbas, DPhil candidate, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
  • Dr Philip Burnet, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford; Director of Graduate Studies
  • Dr Joseph Butler, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
  • Professor John Geddes, Head of Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford; Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry; Director of NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre
  • Dr Richard Lawes, Department of English, University of Oxford
  • Dr Kathryn Murphy, Department of English, University of Oxford
  • Dr Stephen Puntis, NIHR post-doctoral fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
  • Dr Kate Saunders, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford; Director of Medical Studies

A number of public engagement activities are expected to take place around this exhibition.

Moments in Medicine

The Public Engagement education team have developed a new online teaching resource to support GCSE history. Moments in Medicine is a suite of resources developed from one of our ‘Collections Up Close’ workshops for visiting school groups. Each focuses on a different text held at the Bodleian. Taken together, they chart the development of medicine and public health in Britain from the medieval period to the twentieth century. The series features a common layout, designed by Dot Little, which draws these disparate documents into a coherent resource suite.

Each text is accompanied by background information, setting it in context, questions which prompt students to explore the text, and links to further reading, providing stretch and challenge. The resources were trialled by teachers and students at Cheney School prior to publication and were checked for accessibility by GLAM volunteers including teachers, medics and users of screen readers.

Moments in Medicine is available online on the Resources for Teachers page of the Bodleian website.