Reflections on Water Public Lecture - The Sparkling Nectar of Spas: Physicians, Clerics and Mineral Water in an 18th Century Provincial Town
This is the twelfth and final lecture in the 'Reflections on Water' public lecture series.
In 1793, Peterhead, a provincial Scottish town, celebrated the installation of a new pump room in which residents and visitors could enjoy a drink of its wine-colored spa water. Although the salubrious effects of the water had been known for centuries throughout the north of Britain, Peterhead’s new trading links to Holland, England, and the Baltic ensured the arrival of guests who knew nothing of the well’s virtues.
This paper addresses several disagreements that occurred over the therapeutic power of the water. The participants in the debate were diverse, including a professor of moral philosophy, two local clerics and a host of townspeople who had tasted the water. In the end we will see that this sleepy provincial location was, indeed, not very sleepy, and that such local events have much to say about the public understanding of biomedical science as well as the rising commodification of health occurring at the end of the Enlightenment.
This series of public lectures brings together eminent scientists, historians, theologians and philosophers, stimulating speakers involved in current research, to shed new light on the nature and cultural significance of a very familiar substance.
The level of the talks is aimed at a general audience to encourage everyone from students and the interested general public to attend.
ALL IAS LECTURE ARE OPEN TO ALL AND FREE TO ATTEND
Image credit: 'History of the Water Module', R. Hayward, reproduced from L. Pauling and R. Hayward, The Architecture of Molecules (San Francisco: W H Freeman and Co., 1964).
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