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17 November 2022
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
All ages welcome
Free (but please book)
As part of the event, items from the Museum of Medicine and Health will be on display, helping to reveal public health histories from Manchester’s industrial past and the impact on the lives of the people who lived and died here.
This event is part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s national festival of the humanities, taking place 10–19 November 2022. Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with generous support from Research England, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For further information please see https://www.beinghumanfestival.org/
About the books:
THIS MORTAL COIL – Andrew Doig
Causes of death have changed irrevocably across time. In the course of a few centuries we have gone from a world where disease or violence were likely to strike anyone at any age, and where famine could be just one bad harvest away, to one where in many countries excess food is more of a problem than a lack of it. Why have the reasons we die changed so much? How is it that a century ago people died mainly from infectious disease, while today the leading causes of death in industrialised nations are heart disease and stroke? And what do changing causes of death reveal about how previous generations have lived?
University of Manchester Professor Andrew Doig provides an eye-opening portrait of death throughout history, looking at particular causes – from infectious disease to genetic disease, violence to diet – who they affected, and the people who made it possible to overcome them. Along the way we hear about the long and torturous story of the discovery of vitamin C and its role in preventing scurvy; the Irish immigrant who opened the first washhouse for the poor of Liverpool, and in so doing educated the public on the importance of cleanliness in combating disease; and the Church of England curate who, finding his new church equipped with a telephone, started the Samaritans to assist those in emotional distress.
This Mortal Coil is a thrilling story of growing medical knowledge and social organisation, of achievement and, looking to the future, of promise.
GRAVE GOODS – Anwen Cooper, Duncan Garrow, Catriona Gibson, Melanie Giles and Neil Wilkin.
Britain is internationally renowned for the high quality and exquisite crafting of its later prehistoric grave goods (c. 4000 BC to AD 43). Many of prehistoric Britain’s most impressive artefacts have come from graves. Interred with both inhumations and cremations, they provide some of the most durable and well-preserved insights into personal identity and the prehistoric life-course, yet they also speak of the care shown to the dead by the living, and of people’s relationships with ‘things’. Objects matter. This book’s title is an intentional play on words. These are objects in burials; but they are also goods, material culture, that must be taken seriously. Within it, we outline the results of the first long-term, large-scale investigation into grave goods during this period, which enables a new level of understanding of mortuary practice and material culture throughout this major period of technological innovation and social transformation. Analysis is structured at a series of different scales, ranging from macro-scale patterning across Britain, to regional explorations of continuity and change, to site-specific histories of practice, to micro-scale analysis of specific graves and the individual objects (and people) within them. We bring these different scales of analysis together in the first ever book focusing specifically on objects and death in later prehistoric Britain. Focusing on six key case study regions, the book innovatively synthesises antiquarian reports, research projects and developer funded excavations. At the same time, it also engages with, and develops, a number of recent theoretical trends within archaeology, including personhood, object biography and materiality, ensuring that it will be of relevance right across the discipline. Its subject matter will also resonate with those working in anthropology, sociology, museology and other areas where death, burial and the role of material culture in people’s lives are key contemporary issues.
About the authors:
Andrew Doig is Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Manchester. He studied Natural Science and Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, and Biochemistry at Stanford University Medical School. He became a lecturer in Manchester in 1994, where he has been ever since. His research is on computational biology, neuroscience, dementia, developmental biology and proteins. This Mortal Coil is his first book.
Melanie Giles teaches archaeology at the University of Manchester, specialising in the Iron Age, particularly Celtic art, as well as the bog bodies of north-western Europe. She works not just on the analysis and interpretation of burials but on aspects of visualisation and display.
Doors: 18.30, event starts: 18.45
Tickets are free but do please register your interest in advance. Copies of THIS MORTAL COIL and GRAVE GOODS will be available to purchase on the night and Andrew and Melanie will be signing copies after the talk. If you would like a signed copy but cannot make the event, please contact us on 0161 274 3331 or email@example.com and we can arrange this for you.
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