22 de junio de 2018

Diagnosing History: Medicine in Television Costume Dramas

There has been a long relationship between television and medicine: some of the small screen’s most popular shows, on both sides of the Atlantic, have been medical in focus, from hospital-set dramas like ER to reality TV shows and docudramas like One Born Every Minute. This fascination with doctors, hospitals and bodies is also shared by period drama television, but scholarship has paid little attention to this intersection/relationship. Recent period dramas including The Knick, Mercy Street, and Charite, for example, use the hospital setting familiar from older shows like Bramwell, to address larger themes about the professionalization of medicine, medical innovations and failures, and the gender politics that surround the profession. Dramas like Call the Midwife document the progress of the NHS and female reproductive health while also engaging in contemporary debates about contraception, abortion, and disability. In addition, medical-driven narratives abound in almost every period drama on our screens today: war-induced mental and physical trauma in Peaky Blinders; Spanish ‘flu in The Village; gay conversion plotlines in A Place to Call Home; bodily and facial disfigurement in Home Fires; medical experimentation and monstrosity in Penny Dreadful and Frankenstein Chronicles; nursing as a vehicle of female emancipation in The Crimson Field and Morocco: Love in Times of War; and all of the above and many more in Downton Abbey, whose most famous plotlines are medical in nature.

This edited collection seeks to address this important area of period drama studies, and we are looking for proposals for essays on any of the above issues, or which may be interdisciplinary in approach and engage with the medical humanities, interrogating relationships between medicine and history, class, gender or race. Our collection aims to be international in scope, so submissions about period dramas from/situated in any country are welcome.


Please send a 500 word abstract and brief biography by Sept 15, 2018 to: