New Health Educators: Film as Public Educational Tool Challenging Concepts of Health and Disease (Medical Film Collections in Austria)


Sa, 27/07/2019 – 09:00


Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences & the Humanities Department of Utrecht University, 3512 BS Utrecht, Niederlande

Paper by Katrin Pilz at the Panel: Science on the Film Strip: Collecting, Preserving and Archiving Research and Educational Films of the Annual Conference of the History of Science Society: Telling the Stories of Science

This panel seeks to look at the role of research- and educational films as material documents. The interest of the contributors lies in defining the epistemic significance of science films, that were used for either educational or research purposes within the natural sciences.

Medical research-, educational-, and public health films have recently been rediscovered by archives and scholars in different fields. The institutional turn to the proper production and distribution of medical films in Austria starts with the founding of the Staatliche Filmhauptstelle in Vienna in 1919 as well as activities of the Uraniafilm department from 1922 on, the Schulkinobund in 1925 and international educational film associations debating on the psychological and didactical value and uses of hygiene, sex education and disease/accident prevention films and their impact on respective target groups in a more structured way. The implementation of film in higher and public education after WWI and the visualisation of scientific and physiological phenomena now visible through mechanically reproduced motion pictures, such as X-ray films, microcinematography or invasive surgical and obstetric training films, helped to promote but also challenged complex fields such as medicine and public health. The delay in and relative sparseness research on medical educational films have a variety of archival and conceptual reasons. Many collections of medical (educational) films in Austria and elsewhere, after their use value expired, were forgotten, disposed of or stored away in hospital vaults without proper archival care. Their separation from accompanying materials (production notes, research reports, teachers’ guides, booklets) further hindered the evaluation and appreciation of these collections’ significance.

Organizer: History of Science Society (HSS), Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences & the Humanities Department of Utrecht University