Past Event

Kathleen Bachynski – History of Science Workshop

February 16, 2018
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
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Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University Room 801, 1 Washington Place, New York, NY

Speaker: Kathleen Bachynksi, Rudin Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Medical Humanities at NYU’s Langone School of Medicine

Please join us on Friday, February 16 from 12:30-2pm for our first workshop of the spring semester, which will be given by Kathleen Bachynski. Her paper is entitled “‘Rough and Tumble’: What Counts as a Football Injury?” As doctors and coaches attempted to evaluate American tackle football’s risks in the mid-twentieth century, widespread beliefs in the sport’s social benefits shaped their interpretation of its physical dangers. Whether a child’s death or injury associated with playing football could in fact be attributed to football was a crucial question in evaluating the sport’s risks. On a technical level, doctors debated such issues as whether heat strokes that athletes suffered while playing in hot weather constituted a direct or indirect injury. More broadly, doctors, coaches, parents, and sports supervisors debated whether certain risks were unique to the particular nature and techniques of football, or simply inherent to the “rough and tumble” of an active childhood.

Putting football’s risks in context often involved comparisons to other activities, from driving to boxing to playing baseball. Prevailing beliefs about boyhood and physical contact also influenced discussions of mechanisms of injury, by suggesting that fearful player attitudes were in part to blame when football injuries did occur. In both the medical literature and in public perceptions, beliefs about masculinity, physical contact and moral character shaped which physical harms were counted as football injuries and deaths.

All History of Science workshops are held at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University. Lunch will be provided.

Please email Assistant Professor Noam Andrews at [email protected] to RSVP and receive Dr. Bachynski’s paper.