CHUM Lecture Today: Laura Stark on the Scientific Instrumentalization of Clinical Interns

It’s Monday, folks!

That effectively means that there’s another Center for the Humanities (CHUM) lecture going on later this evening  over at Russell House, which as you may or may not have heard, just got a pretty fine monetary injection of $2 million as reported in the Argus a couple of days ago. This week’s lecture is to be given by Science and Society Professor Laura Stark, entitled “Love in a Total Institution: How College Interns Changed Postwar Clinical Research at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.”

Aside from sounding like the title of a novel that could rival “Love in the Time Cholera,” it may in fact be a nice antidote to the dour Tales of the Intern that’s been popping up here and there. (Black Swan! Black Swan!) Click on after the jump for an excerpt of the lecture’s description.

Date: Oct. 10
Time: 4.30PM – 6.00PM
Place: Russell House, main room

“In 1959, clinical scientists at the National Institutes of Health started signing contracts with university administrators across the United States. The contracts allowed NIH to bring college students to live inside the federal research hospital for at least one term while they served as human subjects for medical studies on cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases, and mental illness. Professor Stark’s lecture examines postwar clinical research, and notably the puzzle of how civilian volunteering became acceptable and perpetuated as an essential practice in contemporary clinical research. Her lecture draws from forty oral history interviews and the personal records of former volunteers during the 1950s and 1960s to explore the relationships among volunteers, staff, and sick patients, especially their friendships, romances, and family ties. When combined with documents from formal archives, these records show that NIH administrators in the postwar period did not recruit college students simply because they were reliably young and healthy; NIH depended on their social networks to sustain them while they lived fulltime inside the hospital. Yet college students were not only disciplined by the constraints what Goffman characterized as a “total institution:” the demand that college students work, sleep, and play in the same place and among the same people encouraged them to shape the institution and, inadvertently, the data points they would become.”

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