Speaker: Professor Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck College University of London)

Bodily suffering is central to the experience of being human, yet we still know remarkably little about how people actually experienced pain in the past. How can historians know what pain ‘really felt like’ in previous centuries?

What models did people use to understand pain, and how have these changed? Pain is inter-subjective, thus opening a space to explore questions of clinical empathy, or what 18th-century surgeon William Hunter called the physician’s ‘necessary Inhumanity’.