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L’Ultimo Respiro: TB and Culture in Forlanini’s times
October 3, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pmFree
The year 1882 represented a turning point in the history of Tuberculosis, one of the greatest scourges ever inflicted upon mankind. On March 24, 1882 Robert Koch announced in Berlin his discovery of the Tuberculous bacillus, and during the same year Carlo Forlanini published in Italy eleven papers suggesting the curative potential of artificial pneumothorax. As a result of these diagnostic and therapeutic innovations, 1882 completely changed the public perception of the disease, which went from being some sort of God’s punishment for artistic sin and personal debauchery (Verdi’s Violetta in Traviata) to being simply a disease of abject poverty and failing public health (Puccini’s Mimi in Boheme). Forty years after Susan Sontag’s publication of ‘Illness as Metaphor’, we shall revisit tuberculosis and review how diseases acquire cultural overtones, and how often these can change over time.