Dr Laurence Totelin

Dr Laurence Totelin

Senior Lecturer in Ancient History

Email:
totelinlm@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 5631
Location:
4.03, John Percival Building

I am a historian of Greek and Roman Science, Technology and Medicine. I focus on the history of pharmacology and botany. My work is influenced by gender theory, and I have a particular interest in gynaecological treatments, aphrodisiacs, and the properties of milk (especially breast-milk).

I have a background in Classics/Ancient History (BA); History and Philosophy of Science (MPhil); and History of Medicine (PhD). I have published both on the history of ancient pharmacology (in particular on gynaecological pharmacology) and the history of botany. I am currently interested in the ancient history of milk, with a focus on its symbolism in ancient cultures. My approach to research is cross-disciplinary and I enjoy collaborating with people from various disciplines. I am an experienced blogger, writing posts for the Recipes Project, my own blog Concocting History, and guest posts on other blogs.

I am the Equality and Diversity co-ordinartor for the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.

Honours and awards

  • ISSF Cardiff Wellcome Trust Grant for ‘Nain, Mam and Me: infant feeding in Wales, social history and modern practices’, collaborative project with Dr Julia Sanders (consultant midwife) and Ms Heather Trickey (DECIPHer). Smaller grants were awarded to this project by the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff and Cardiff Engagement Team, 2015
  • Cardiff University Research Leave Grant, 2014-2015
  • Wellcome Trust Grant for the ‘Approaches to Ancient Medicine’ conference 2012 (Cardiff University), 2012
  • Classical Association grant for ‘Approaches to Ancient Medicine’ conference 2012 (Cardiff University), 2012
  • Classical Association grant for ‘Approaches to Ancient Medicine’ conference 2010 (Cardiff University), 2010
  • Wellcome Trust Grant for ‘Approaches to Ancient Medicine’ conference 2010 (Cardiff University), 2010
  • Wellcome Trust Grant for a panel entitled ‘History of ancient science and medicine vs economic history’ at the Classical Association Conference 2010 (Cardiff University), 2010
  • Wellcome Trust Grant for a panel on Ancient Medicine at the Classical Association Conference 2007 (University of Birmingham), 2007
  • Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 2006-2009
  • Wellcome Trust Centre PhD Studentship, 2002-2009
  • Maurice Wiener–Philippe Anspach Studentship, 2001-2002
  • Medal of the Free University of Brussels for Excellence, 2000
  • Erasmus Studentship, 1998
  • Marguerite Bervoets Prize for the best first-year result in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Free University of Brussels, 1997

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Classical Association
  • Member of the British Society for the History of Science
  • Member of the British Society for the History of Pharmacy

Previous academic positions

  • 2009-2015 Lecturer in Ancient History, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University
  • 2006-2009 Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
  • 2006-2009 Bye-fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge
  • 2006-2009 Teaching fellow, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University
  • 2006-2009 Supervisor, Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University
  • 2006-2007 Teaching fellow, Department of Classics, University of Reading
  • 2005-2006 Teaching fellow, London Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Imperial College, London
  • 2005-2006 Teaching fellow, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London
  • 2003-2006 Supervisor, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University

Speaking engagements

In the last three years

  • April 2016: 'Anti-abortion and abortion laws: some historical insights', Abortion Rights Cardiff
  • April 2016: 'Mother and nurse plants in Latin literature', Classical Association 2016, University of Edinburgh
  • February 2016: 'Crying over spilt milk: analogies between tears and milk in ancient literature’, Departmental Seminar, Swansea Department of History and Classics
  • November 2015: ‘Concocting History and other blogging adventures’, Work in Progress Seminar, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University
  • November 2015: ‘The she-wolf at the Eisteddfod’, Conference: UWICAH, Cardiff University
  • October 2015: ‘What will the neighbours say? Middle-distance drug trade in the ancient world’, Conference: Trade, Discovery and Influences in the History of Herbal Medicine, the Herbal History Research Network, Wellcome Trust
  • July 2015: 'Baah baah black Sheep, have you any Wool: wool in ancient medicine’, Conference: Technologies of Daily Life in Ancient Greece, Swansea University
  • June 2015: ‘Castoreum or the testicle of the Istrian beaver: ingredient presentation strategies in ancient recipes’, Conference: Towards a history of epistemic genres: the textbook, the commentary, the case and the recipe in the making of medical knowledge,Max-Plack Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin
  • May 2015: ‘Easy remedies – difficult texts: the pseudo-Galenic Euporista’, Conference: Pseudo-Galenic texts and the formation of the Galenic Corpus,Warburg Institute
  • April 2015: ‘Crying over spilt milk: analogies between tears and milk in ancient literature’, Classical Association 2015, University of Bristol
  • January 2015: ‘Back to Cleopatra’s kitchen: what I have learnt experimenting with ancient medical and cosmetic recipes’, Remaking History: using re-enactment in historical research and engagement, Symposium, Art Workers Guild, London
  • December 2014: ‘Gone with the wind: laughter and the audience of the Hippocratic treatises’, Conference Greek medical texts and their audience, perception, transmission, reception, King's College London
  • November 2014: ‘Because they are worth it: bloom of youth and other wonderful ancient drugs’, Departmental seminar, Classics Department, University of Glasgow
  • November 2014: ‘Retail therapy: selling and buying drugs in the ancient world’, Pre-modern medicine series, Wellcome Library
  • October 2014: ‘Metamorphosing narratives: plant metamorphosis in poetry and natural sciences from Ovid and Pliny to Goethe’, Kyknos conference 2014, Swansea University
  • June 2014: ‘Etouffement et empoisonnement au lait dans le monde Gréco-Romain’, Journée d’étude internationale, les ambiguïtés du lait, Université de Fribourg
  • April 2014: ‘Ethnic and hybrid vegetables: reading ancient botanical texts with a historian’s eye,’ Departmental Seminar, Classics, Princeton University
  • April 2014: ‘Pharmakopolai: a re-evaluation of the sources’, Popular Medicine conference, Columbia University
  • March 2014: ‘How to solve a problem like the pumpkin: plant classifications in the ancient world’, Workshop on Ancient Greek and Roman Medical and Scientific Writing, Humboldt University Berlin
  • March 2014:  ‘Resident Alien: plant transplantation in ancient literature’, Departmental Seminar, Classics, University of Newcastle
  • December 2013: ‘The Third Way:  Galen’s influence on gynaecological pharmacology in late antiquity and early Byzantium’, Conference on Late Antique – Early Byzantine Pharmacology and its Reception in the Talmud Tradition, Humboldt University
  • November 2013: ‘The love of plants: from love to sex in the history of botany’, Departmental Seminar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University
  • November 2013: ‘Back to Cleopatra’s kitchen: what I have learnt experimenting with ancient remedies’, Joint meeting of the Welsh School of Pharmacy and the British Society for the History of Pharmacy, Cardiff University
  • October 2013: ‘Selling pharmaka – buying health: pharmacology, wealth and branding in the ancient world’, Ancient Drugs: Pharmacology across the Ancient World, Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

University committees

  • 2015-present Chair of Equality and Diversity Committee
  • 2015-present Postgraduate coordinator, Ancient History
  • 2015-present Member of the School Board
  • 2013-2014 Senior Tutor, Ancient History Department
  • 2010-2015 Chair of the Cardiff and District Classical Association Branch
  • 2010-2013 Member of the Equality and Diversity Committee
  • 2010-2012 Ancient History Part One Coordinator
  • 2009-2012 Third-Year Dissertation and Second-Year Independent Study Coordinator, Ancient History Department
  • 2009-2012 Exams Convener, Ancient History Department

Education and qualifications

  • 1996–2000 BA in Ancient History, Free University of Brussels
  • 2000–2001 Teaching degree in History and Classical languages, Free University of Brussels
  • 2001–2002 MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science, Darwin College, University of Cambridge
  • 2002–2005 PhD, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL

Career overview

  • 2015–present Senior Lecturer in Ancient History, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University
  • 2009–2015 Lecturer in Ancient History, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University
  • 2006–2009 Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, and bye-fellow at Newnham College. I combined my postdoctoral research with teaching at various UK institutions (Cambridge, UCL, Imperial College, and Reading)

Undergraduate

  • Introduction to Ancient Greek History - 20 credits (HS3101)
  • Introduction to Roman History - 20 credits (HS3102)
  • Gods and the Polis - 10 credits (HS3330)
  • Gender and Sexuality - 20 credits (HS3362)
  • Greek and Roman Medicine - 20 credits (HS3376)
  • Science and Technology in the Graeco-Roman World - 10 credits (HS3373)
  • Pots, Poems and Pictures: using Evidence for Ancient History - 20 credits (HS4336)

Postgraduate

  • Themes and Approaches in Ancient History - 20 credits (HST002)
  • Gender, Sexuality and Society in Ancient Greece and Rome - 20 credits (HST018)
  • Special Topic: Medicine and Society in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages - 20 credits (HST039)
  • Postgraduate Greek II - 20 credits (HST025)

Research supervision

I welcome PhD proposals relating to Greek and Roman medicine, science and technology. In particular I am interested in topics relating to pharmacology, botany and gardening, especially if they have a gender element. I would also be interested in topics relating to the reception of ancient botany and pharmacology, especially in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Ancient botany

In collaboration with the botanist Gavin Hardy, I have published a book entitled Ancient Botany, Routledge 2015. Our hope was for this book to promote further research in the field. Personally, I will look further in the history and symbolism of grafting, as well political allusions in ancient texts on plants.

Retail Therapy: Selling pharmaka, buying health in the Greek and Roman World

Ancient pharmacological recipes may appear to be a very dry topic of research, but they are a mine of information for any ancient historian interested in social or economic history. I have published a book on the earliest recipes preserved in Greek, the recipes of the Hippocratic Corpus (Hippocratic Recipes: Oral and Written Transmission of Pharmacological Knowledge in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Greece, 2009). This study brought together my interests in the history of Greek medicine, social, cultural and economic history, studies of ancient literacy, and gender studies. I am currently working on a book examining the economic aspects of ancient pharmacology. I discuss how those involved in the Greek and Roman pharmacological 'business' promoted their remedies and sold them at the highest cost.

Got Milk? The symbolism of milk in antiquity and beyond

My newest project is on milk in the ancient world. I am interested in the symbolic significance of milk – all milks, be they human, animal or vegetable – in Greek and Roman culture. Together with Dr Victoria Leonard, I am organising a conference 'Bodily Fluids, Fluid Bodies' in which milk, alongside other bodily fluids, will be examined. I am also the recipient, with Ms Heather Trickey (SOCSI) and Dr Julia Sanders (HCARE) of an ISSF Wellcome grant for a project entitled 'Nain, Mam and Me: infant feeding in Wales, social history and modern practices'. Our aim is to use historical artefacts to promote discussions on infant feeding in Wales.