From Business School to the Archives

– by Drew Campbell, archives intern


This semester, I began my junior year at the University of the Sciences. After I made my schedule for the semester, I realized how much time I had after my classes ended for the day. I wanted to find an internship opportunity because I have always been able to learn more from working than from sitting in a classroom. As a student in a university environment where science is the main focus, I wanted to spend some time not in a lab, but with history.

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Ad nonum sic proceditur

The text on this binding is part of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.  The front cover contains a section of the Third Part [Christ], Question 68 [Of Those Who Receive Baptism], Articles 8 [Whether faith is required on the part of the one baptized] and 9 [Whether children should be baptized].  The back cover contains a section of the Third Part [Christ], Question 72 [Of The Sacrament of Confirmation], Articles 4 [Whether the proper form of this sacrament is: “I sign thee with the sign of the cross,” etc.] and 5 [Whether the sacrament of Confirmation imprints a character].


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Reading feces, from scatomancy to coprology

– by Wood Institute travel grantee, Guy Schaffer*


Four years ago, Kathy High and I started an artistic investigation into fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), a medical treatment in which stool from a healthy donor is used to replenish the intestinal microbes of an unhealthy patient. The treatment has been approved for a chronic bacterial infection—C. difficile—and it is currently in clinical trials for inflammatory bowel disease, as well as for illnesses that are only tangentially intestinal: depression, autism, chronic fatigue, Parkinson’s, and others.

Through this engagement with feces, we’ve become curious both about the current culture of fear and control around feces, and the kinds of hope that we see people take on when they talk about FMT. We came to the Historical Medical Library at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to try to trace a genealogy of our contemporary relationship with feces. In our history of shit, we wanted to probe the annals of proctology to search for different kinds of frameworks for imagining the relationship between feces and health, in the hopes of finding new conceptual tools for exploring the future of shit.

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