Monday, October 8, 2012

Adventures in New Haven

Image courtesy of the Yale Medical Library website.

This past weekend I completed my (near) annual pilgrimage to the East Coast for the Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Medicine, affectionately known as JasMed. This conference run by and for graduate students is one of two chances I have every year to get together with other junior scholars who are weird in the same ways that I am weird (the other is the large national meeting of the American Association of the History of Medicine in the spring, or AAHM).

This year we were at Yale University, where the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library provided an appropriate setting for papers on the history of bloodletting, of touch and sight in gynecology, the connections between psychiatry and politics, and of the smallpox eradication campaign in Cameroon. My abstract about closing the reception loop between nutritionists and lay people in early twentieth-century Germany was not accepted, but the quality of the papers that were taken was so high that I don't mind. I find it fun and educational to hear what my colleagues are doing at their various institutions, and there is always plenty of time scheduled for socializing. Bless their hearts: the conference organizers made sure we ate every two hours or so, so I didn't go hungry!

Our early afternoon session discussing a pre-circulated paper about tuberculosis in Cuba got out early, so a few of us took a walk from the medical campus to the main campus, where we searched out the rare book building, home to 500,000 rare books and "several million manuscripts." It's a bibliophile's dream. Built in 1960-1963, this "jewel box" of modernist architecture contrasts greatly with the surrounding neo-Gothic buildings. From the outside, the Beinecke Library looks like a white block of concrete, but inside the marble "windows" let in amber-colored light. In the center, a glassed-in tower displays part of the stacks in spectacular fashion. I might have had a bibliorgasm. Click here for photos.

Back at the hotel room I shared with a friend from college, one thing made me laugh, and another made me shake my head. On the right, members of one side of my family can probably guess what hotel chain we were at: that's right, a Marriott. I don't doubt that the protection and warning on the sprinkler head are the result of a certain favorite uncle's accident with a sprinkler, a hanger, and a fire alarm during the Slet in Fort Worth two years ago...

In the shower I made the mistake of reading the promotional text on the little Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner bottles that came with the room. Are you ready for this? The shampoo read,

"Go native with the lush lather and moisturizing goodness of Hawaiian Awapuhi. Brightens all hair types by removing dulling buildup. Color Safe."

::sigh:: The advertising major who dreamed that up must have slept through the distribution-requirement Anthro 101 s/he took in college. But it gets worse. The conditioner read, "Triumph over tangles with this super rich conditioner." That's right, once your hair has "gone native," you can force it into submission with your colonialist conditioner. Happy Columbus Day.

1 comment:

  1. If you enter, prepare to be searched on your way out! Beinecke Library is also where Yale Toastmasters has its meetings.


Your comments let me know that I am not just releasing these thoughts into the Ether...