First Seminar: Data rituals: Measuring and recording height and weight in baby books in the US, 1872-1940
Speaker: Dr Fenneke Sysling
Date: 11am, Wednesday 29 May
Location: Seminar Room in Lilybank House
Second Seminar: Glass Wombs and Paper Fetuses: Representing the Female Reproductive Body in France, Britain, and the United States, 1880–1900.
Speaker: Dr Jessica Dandona
Date: 5:30pm, Tuesday 18 June
Location: library of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
There are two events remaining before the summer break in the seminar series of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for the History of Medicine.
The first seminar takes place at 11am on Wednesday 29 May in the Seminar Room in Lilybank House. The seminar is free to attend and will be followed by a buffet lunch. All are welcome.
Measuring and recording height and weight in baby books in the US, 1872-1940.
This paper looks at the recording of baby height and weight in baby books. It moves between the medical profession and individual parent practices to examine weight and height to show how parent practices in the baby books differed from those of professionals. Although the use of weight and height records by parents might appear to exemplify institutional biopower manifested through internalised self-monitoring, I argue that measuring height and weight and recording it in a baby soon became a ritualised version of measurement. This ritual both symbolised and realised the transformation of the baby from newborn status to child and new personality the family and showed that to measure was to care. With the transfer to family practice in baby books, the recording of height and weight thus took on a different meaning.
Speaker Biography: Fenneke Sysling is a historian of science and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Her current project is called The Quantified Self, and is a history of quantification practices in the human sciences and how they traveled from the sciences into individual lives. She has also worked on the history of race and colonialism. Until July 2019, she is a visiting fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Glasgow.
The final seminar will take place in the library of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow on Tuesday 18 June at 5:30pm. Dr Jessica Dandona, will be presenting a paper entitled: “Glass Wombs and Paper Fetuses: Representing the Female Reproductive Body in France, Britain, and the United States, 1880–1900.” Further details can be found via: