Linda and Charles Wilson Humanities in Medicine Lecture

Funded by Charles and Linda Wilson, the Humanities in Medicine program works with the UNMC program each year to bring a speaker to both campuses to speak on humanities topics related to medicine.

Jim Downs


Jim Downs

April 13, 3:30 p.m.
Sheldon Art Museum, Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium

Downs is currently the Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow at The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Gilder Lehrman NEH Chair of Civil War Era Studies and History at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine.

In this talk, Downs rethinks the history of epidemiology by uncovering the untold ways that slavery, imperialism, and war created built environments—ships, plantations, and battlefields—that enabled physicians to study the spread of infectious disease.

Read more about Downs and his talk



"The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Sisters Changed American Medicine"

Janice P. Nimura is a New York Times bestselling author whose book was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in biography. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Smithsonian, and other publications. She majored in English at Yale and completed an M.A. in East Asian studies at Columbia University.

View the event flyer.

Samuel Kelton Roberts


"Drugs, Politics, and Pariahs: Or, How to Think About Race and Harm Reduction in an Opioid Epidemic"

Samuel Kelton Roberts, PhD presents a history of race and the current opioid crisis, also stopping to offer thoughts about how harm reduction can and should be infused with racial and economic justice agendas.

Roberts is Associate Professor of History and Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University, where he leads the Research Cluster for Historical Study of Race, Inequality, and Health.

View the event flyer.

HMED Lecture 2019 digital sign


"Perfect Pregnancies and Mourned Miscarriages: A History of Modern Childbearing"

Dr. Lara Freidenfelds offered a far-reaching look at the rise of our current childbearing culture from its earliest glimmers in the Revolutionary era to today, with suggestions for realistic and humane expectations.

A historian of health, reproduction, and parenting in America, Freidenfelds holds a doctorate in history of science and a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology from Harvard University.

HMED Lecture 2018 digital sign


“Medical Bondage and the Birth of Gynecology”

Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens moved between southern plantations and northern urban centers to reveal how nineteenth-century American ideas about race, health, and status influenced doctor-patient relationships in sites of healing like slave cabins, medical colleges, and hospitals. She retold the story of the rise of modern gynecology from the perspectives of black enslaved women and Irish immigrant women.

HMED Keynote Event


"Medicine and Madison Avenue: Pitching Drugs to Patients - and Doctors"

Nancy Tomes is a Distinguished Professor of History at Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY).

Mark Vonnegut event


"Great Wits and Madness: The Arts, Medicine, and Mental Illness"

Dr. Mark Vonnegut is the author of several books, including The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity (1975) and Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only Moreso (2010).