Reliquaries of St. Elzéar and Bl. Delphine

by Tracy Jamison*

Words are potent. Words can awaken memories, stir emotions and quiet the mind. Words have been used in the creation of groundswells that burst forth to bring down stalwart walls of injustice as well as to buttress vast empires: Word-for-word, Brick-by-brick. In her lecture, Dr. Nicole Archambeau examined the concept of the voice as a relic. How ‘mere words’ of admittedly melodic meter, manifested within the human body, and alleviated physiological and psychological distress during an era rife with mercenary invasions that razed fifteen cities,  populations forced to languish under waves of plague and that eventually saw the erosion of the Treaty of Brétigny and the continuation of the Hundred Years’ War.

After parsing through medieval canonization inquests and Articles of Interrogation in order to divine how people foresaw and negotiated the curative continuum from medico to physico in their attempt to heal and restore the spirit, Dr. Archambeau chose the life of Delphine of Glandèves, more commonly known as the Blessed Delphine, as a paragon of 14th century healing pluralities. Delphine was a countess who was alleged to have the ability to mediate miracles through the melodic meter of her voice. As a miracle mediator, Delphine offered a distinctive healing option from the ‘despairing doctor trope’ that did not sanction the giving of false hope to those suffering from illness. The wife of newly canonized Saint Elzéar of Sabran, Delphine was not a doctrinaire and did not tout that she possessed any medicinal knowledge. Nevertheless, during her canonization inquest, Master Durand Andre testified that through her voice, Delphine touched him from the inside and he felt contrition, compunction and consolation.  As Archambeau articulated in her lecture, witnesses for Delphine’s candidacy for canonization related to the papal court that Delphine ministered miraculous healing that actively managed the care of their soul, a vital part of personal health. Continue reading

OSU’s History of Science Program congratulates three of our graduate student veterans this term, as they advanced to candidacy during Week 10.  They now have the vaunted status of “ABD,” which either means “all but dissertation” or “anything but dissertation,” depending on how you look at it 🙂  It was a pleasure to be part of the process getting them to this stage, and now all three have launched into intensive research:

Rachel Blake is working on the history of science and medicine, under Prof. Michael A. Osborne.  Her dissertation will be on French and German influences on medical education in Alsace in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Barbara Canavan is working on the history of science, disease, and environment, under the supervision of Prof. Anita Guerrini.  Her dissertation will be on the development of virology as a discipline, and on the networks of scientists who attempted to understand avian influenza.

Laura Cray is working on the history of biology and environment, under the supervision of Prof. Michael A. Osborne. Her dissertation will be on entomological research in the United States after the creation of land-grant colleges.

Congrats to all three, and to Professors Osborne and Guerrini, for their hard work in graduate supervision.

by Tracy Jamison*

 “There ain’t no such thing as free lunch…”

 Economics in eight words, El Paso Herald-Post (June 27, 1938)

 Recently, when the first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new school lunch nutrition guidelines, there were some critiques that the current administration had overstepped their bounds and become the “Food Police”. Political pundits decried that this was just the latest example of big government run amok, impenitently imposing their authoritarian legislation. Why is the government dictating or supplementing childhood nutrition? A few of these pundits have offered a modest proposal: If the working poor cannot afford to feed their children nutritious foods, perhaps it will spur them to find better jobs. Thankfully, the leadership of this country has yet to accept their solution to eliminate childhood hunger. Continue reading

H5N1 viruses

by Barbara Canavan*

As I plug away on the prospectus for my doctoral research, I ponder all that I have learned from the history of science and medicine in the past two years. My background and interests have led me to the intersection of history, ecology, virology, climate, infectious disease, and technology. It is humbling to confront the need to bring it all together in a scholarly and unique way. What is the nexus of these diverse topics? All I need to do is to come up with a research question that, when answered, would shed new light on what others have done before…and for that new light to truly have us look at things in a new way.  Easy, right? Not so much. Here is my start and I welcome comments. Continue reading

Dr. Tamina Toray

by Anthony F. Miller*

Thursday, May 24th, Dr. Tamina Toray of Western Oregon University spoke in Hovland Hall to a group of 16  students and 4 professionals on the topic, “Palliative Care: Transforming the Care of Serious Illness.”   Dr. Toray teaches the course On Death and Dying at Western Oregon University, and works in conjunction with Dr. Courtney Campbell, here at OSU, in the Medical Humanities program.  Multiple Oregon universities jointly offer the program, an updated approach to what used to be known as a Pre-Med program. Continue reading

by Tracy Jamison*

Do you welcome change? Dr. Jane Barton began by querying the audience on their acceptance of the inevitable.  We are all human and were born with a terminal illness: Life. So how does the average person see change and how does that affect the quality of their coping skills.  As a hospice chaplain who began her journey in the oil fields of Texas, Dr. Barton is intimately familiar with loss and change although that familiarity began in her childhood.  She posited that change within itself is not inherently positive or negative. To quote an old colloquialism, the only constant is change.  Welcome to Holland. Continue reading

by Natalie Rich*

During my visit to the Western Michigan University Undergraduate Biomedical Ethics Symposium this last weekend, I had the chance to share an excerpt from my honors thesis with several other students interested in bioethics from across the country. The topics discussed involved relatively straightforward examples, such as case studies involving the end of life wishes of elderly cancer patients to abstract ties between Alzheimer’s disease and personal identity. Was the physician justified in resuscitating the eighty-year-old woman who asked not to be resuscitated? Continue reading

by Michael A. Osborne*

Marseille continually reinterprets its colonial heritage. The city constitutes an imaginarium of material and immaterial symbols revealing of its history. No French city has been more wedded to colonization than this cross roads of Mediterranean peoples. Historians signal frequently its lavish colonial expositions of 1906 and 1922, and a visitor to the one of 1922 found that the city itself was “a colonial city, … [like] a capital of the French colonial empire.” Aside from the 1931 Exposition coloniale in Paris, the 1906 exposition was the largest French event of its genre. Continue reading

by Rachel St. Clair*

Looking out on a large crowd in La Selles Center, Lisa Sanders understood that she had an attentive audience.  Sanders, who is known for her work on the television show “House” as both a producer and inspiration, came to Oregon State to discuss the theory of diagnosis.  Her March 13 lecture, “Every Patient Tells a Story,” focused on the importance for patient narrations of symptoms in the doctors office. Continue reading

by Jindan Chen*

What’s in Hanford’s backyard? What cleanup has been accomplished, and what are the current challenges? What can you do about Hanford? These questions were presented to the Feb 23 open forum here at Oregon State University about the former plutonium production facility in Hanford, Washington.  Participants in the forum included representatives from the Oregon Department of Energy (Ken Niles), Washington Department of Ecology (John Price and Dieter Bohrmann) and the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board (Max S. Power). Continue reading