Wellcome Library, London (CC BY 4.0).

Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield
Friday 30 September-Saturday 1 October 2016

Since at least the sixteenth century intoxication has frequently been seen as a problem in western cultures – a medical, social, political, moral, and economic concern, affecting both individuals and social bodies, that huge amounts of public funding and energy have been devoted to understanding, addressing, and preventing. Just as frequently, these attempts have failed, even when they are based on apparently incontrovertible ‘scientific’ evidence – to do with serious physiological damage to the brain and liver, for example, or serious personal and social harms.

Wellcome Library, London (CC BY 4.0).

The focus of this interdisciplinary workshop is:

  • discourses that have and/or continue to frame intoxication as a problem over time
  • other discourses that have represented intoxicants as an integral and valuable feature of social life and personal identity
  • the relationship between these various discursive traditions and practices of intoxication in different times and places

It brings together exponents of and experts in different kinds of discourse: medical, psychological, cultural, economic, law and politics, public health. But it also brings together experts in social practice: for example, social historians, anthropologists, and sociologists. The workshop provides an opportunity for speakers to think about the epistemologies, language, and assumptions of discourses relating to intoxicants and – in particular – the means by which they are publicly communicated: by whom, to whom, in what media and genres. It also asks students of social practices to think about the key discursive influences on their construction, reproduction, meaning, and value over time.

Wellcome Library, London (CC BY 4.0).

Friday 30 September 2016

9:30 Registration and Introduction

10:00-11:20 Panel 1: Whose Discourse?
Chair: Phil Withington

  • Dermot Gleeson (University of Sheffield): Alcohol: Recreational Intoxicant, Pain Relief, or Poison (or All Three)?
  • James Nicholls (Alcohol Research UK): Where’s the Fun in That? Intoxication and Public Health Perspectives on Alcohol
  • Vibeke Asmussen Frank (Aarhus University), Maria Herold (Aarhus University), & Geoffrey Hunt (Aarhus University): Between Belonging and Geographical Others: Identity Related Aspects of Alcohol Use and Intoxication among Young Adults in Rural Denmark

11:20-11:40 Tea & Coffee

11:40-13:00 Panel 2: Perspectives on Addiction
Chair: David Clemis

  • Jose Cree (University of Sheffield): Discourses of Addiction in Early Modern England
  • Darin Weinberg (University of Cambridge): Freedom and Addiction in Four Discursive Registers
  • Gemma Blok (University of Amsterdam): The Drug User’s View: An Oral History of the Dutch Heroin ‘Epidemic’, 1970-2000

13:00-14:00 Buffet Lunch

14:00-15:20 Panel 3: Problematic Practices
Chair: Benjamin Smith

  • David Beckingham (University of Cambridge): Gendering Problem Drinking
  • Mark Hailwood (University of Exeter): ‘Overcome with Drink’: Lines, Limits, and Boundaries in Seventeenth-Century Discourses of Alcohol Consumption
  • John Holmes (University of Sheffield), Alan Brennan (University of Sheffield), & Petra S. Meier (University of Sheffield): A Social Practice-Based Typology of British Drinking Culture in 2009-2011: Implications for Alcohol Policy Analysis

15:20-15:40 Tea & Coffee

15:40-17:00 Plenary Session
Chair: Phil Withington

  • James Brown (University of Sheffield) & Tim Wales (University of Sheffield): Intoxicants and Early Modernity: Introducing a Database of Alcohol, Nicotine, Caffeine, and Opium in England, 1580-1740

17:00-19:30 Pub

19:30 Speakers’ Dinner at Efes Bar & Grill


Saturday 1 October 2016

9:30 Tea & Coffee

10:00-11:00 Panel 4: Illicit Traffic
Chair: Gemma Blok

  • Stephen Snelders (Utrecht University): Substituting One Drug for Another: Intoxicants in the Netherlands, 1920-1945
  • Alex Taylor (University of Sheffield): Economic Discourse and Trafficking Tobacco in Seventeenth-Century Bristol

11:00-11:20 Tea & Coffee

11:20-12:40 Panel 5: Doing Excess
Chair: James Nicholls

  • Angela McShane (V&A/University of Sheffield): Through the Venice Glass: Performative Materialities in Early Modern Europe
  • Gerda Reith (University of Glasgow): ‘Addictive Consumption’: Capitalism, Modernity, and Excess
  • Franca Beccaria (Eclectica): The Ambiguity of the Concept of Binge Drinking: Changes over Time and Actual Practices among Italian Young People

12:40-13:40 Buffet Lunch

13:40-15:00 Panel 6: Medical Moments
Chair: David Beckingham

  • Deborah Toner (University of Leicester): Alcoholism, Degeneration Theory, and Race in Mexico, c. 1870-1920
  • David Clemis (Mount Royal University): ‘The Drunkard, Opened, Dissected and Anatomized’: Intoxicated Comportment in English Medicine and Morals, 1630-1830
  • Maurice Ptito (University of Montreal) & Ron Kupers (University of Copenhagen): Pervasive Effects of Prenatal Ethanol Exposure on the Brain of Monkeys

15:00-15:20 Tea & Coffee

15:20-16:20 Panel 7: The Problem with Expertise
Chair: Phil Withington

  • Ryo Yokoe (University of Sheffield): ‘A Permissive Society’? The Decline of Alcoholism and Medical Discourse in Interwar Britain
  • Alex Mold (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine): ‘Everybody Likes a Drink. Nobody Likes a Drunk’: Alcohol, Health Education, and the Public in 1970s Britain

16:20 Concluding Remarks


Wellcome Library, London (CC BY 4.0).

Registration and Accommodation

The workshop, which is free to attend, has now sold out. If you’d like to be added to the waiting list, contact Ryo Yokoe who’ll inform you on a first-come-first-served basis if and when spaces become available. Non-speaking delegates are requested to arrange their own accommodation in Sheffield; please visit Booking.com to view available options. Please contact Ryo Yokoe with any further queries.