Friday, February 14, 2014

Lecture by author and physician Dr. Victoria Sweet at UO in Portland

The lecture below, hosted by University of Oregon in Portland, is likely to be of interest to many of our local readers:

Prize-winning author and physician Dr. Victoria Sweet will share her story of how healing practices of the past have shaped her approach as a modern-day physician in her lecture “God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine.” The lecture will take place at ThursdayMarch 6th at 7:30 p.m. at the UO in Portland, White Stag Block, 70 NW Couch St. 

During her clinical work as a medical student, Dr. Sweet became curious about the anima—that mysterious invisible force that animates the physical body. Several years later, she happened upon the works of Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval abbess who was a theologian, visionary, and medical practitioner. Thus began Sweet’s quest to understand the pre-modern view of the human body and healing, and her pursuit of a Ph.D. in the history of medicine. Serendipitously, her part-time job as a physician at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital—the last almshouse in the country—allowed her not only the time she needed to study and write, but also a living laboratory in which to practice some of the medieval healing skills she was researching. She learned to embrace the “efficiency of inefficiency,” and to get to know her patients on a deeply personal level, so that she could assist them in accessing their own inner source of healing—the veriditas, or “greenness” to which Hildegard refers in her writings. In short, Dr. Sweet’s Ph.D. studies and her more than twenty years of experience at Laguna Honda changed the way she understands and practices medicine.

Sweet is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also a practicing physician and a prize-winning historian, with a Ph.D. in history and social medicine. In addition to God’s Hotel (2012), she has published a book on Hildegard of Bingen, Rooted in the Earth, Rooted in the Sky: Hildegard of Bingen and Premodern Medicine (Routledge, 2006), and several essays, including “Hildegard of Bingen and the Greening of Medieval Medicine” in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1999).

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, or for disability accommodations (which must be made by February 26th), please call (541) 346-3934.

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