NLM: Romantic Imagination Revisited: the Physiological Imagination and Imagined Physiology

Dear Colleagues,

You are cordially invited to the next NLM History of Medicine lecture, to be held Wednesday, 5 December 2012 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., in the NLM Visitor Center, National Library of Medicine, Building 38A, Bethesda, MD:

“The Romantic Imagination Revisited: the Physiological Imagination and Imagined Physiology”

Richard C. Sha, PhD

Professor of Literature,

American University

This lecture examines the discipline of physiology as it was understood in the Romantic period in Britain (1750-1832). Using NLM’s rich holdings in this area, the speaker will demonstrate that the human imagination became a vexed subject for physiologists like John Hunter and George Cuvier because the discipline itself was caught between the need to reason from anatomy and the growing prestige of animal experimentation.  Associated repeatedly with theory, supposition, and speculation, the imagination became the whipping boy of scientists. But, since the cure for an excessive imagination became the scientific method itself, the imagination was then recognized for its ability to generate hypotheses that could be proven by experiment. Physiologists became more indebted to the imagination than they wanted to recognize.  The talk concludes by considering why Coleridge–who wrote multiple essays on physiology himself–turned to the work of physiologist Richard Saumarez to define the imagination in his own writings.

All are welcome.

Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen Greenberg at 301-435-4995, e-mail<>, or the Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).

Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised to consult the NLM Visitors and Security website:

Sponsored by

NLM’s History of Medicine Division

Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, Chief

Event contact:

Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD

Coordinator of Public Services

History of Medicine Division

National Library of Medicine, NIH