October 28, 2014

Thursday lecture on Renaissance medicine and science part of library's Harry Potter exhibit

Holly Tucker, Ph.D., professor of French and Italian and in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, will deliver a lecture, "Straunge Secretes: A Field Guide to Renaissance Medicine and Science," Thursday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. in the boardroom at the Annette and Irwin Eskind Biomedical Library at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The lecture is being delivered in conjunction with the traveling exhibit, “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine,” which is currently in the library's History of Medicine Room.

The exhibit, developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) of the National Institutes of Health, will run through Nov. 12, and is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The exhibit seeks to show that the magic depicted in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling is “partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science and medicine,” according to material provided by the NLM.

The six major sections of the exhibit are devoted to different aspects of wizard life that would be familiar to fans of the Harry Potter books or movies: Potions, Monsters, Herbology, Magical Creatures, Fantastic Beasts and Immortality.

The posters and information from the traveling exhibit are supplemented by items from the historical collection at the library detailing some of the same themes, including:

• “Kreuterbuch,” a book on plants and their uses published in 1557, featuring beautiful hand-colored illustrations.

• A 1576 book on alchemy by Konrad Gesner, including a chapter titled “The distilling aqua vitae,” a guide to making brandy.

• A volume by the 16th Century Swiss physician Paracelsus, who was often incorrectly considered a magician and is known as a founder of the fields of toxicology and pharmacology.

• Various other objects that evoke the era, including a mortar and pestle, flasks and microscopes.

More information on the exhibit, including educational resources for all levels of students and supplemental material, are at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/harrypottersworld/index.html.

To see the Eskind Library material in the exhibit, go to the library’s site at http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/diglib/sc_diglib/harry_potter/index.html.

To learn more about Tucker and the lecture, go to http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/diglib/sc_diglib/harry_potter/lecture.html.