A quack selling medicines. Oil painting after C.W.E. Dietrich (?) after A. van Ostade (?). Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Course Description

Healing Spaces is a research seminar that provides an introduction to how healers of all kinds have produced and adapted different spaces to facilitate, promote, and authorize particular forms of healing. Space has been central to healing practices in the industrializing west. It is not just that healing occurs in different sorts of spaces; rather, understanding spatial forms is crucial to understanding the real and imagined power of healing, and the kinds of healing that are possible. The course will promote awareness of the extent to which healing practices shape our perceptions and lived experiences of spaces and places. Indeed, taking one definition of place to be “space with meaning”, the course explores how healing practices endow spaces with meaning and vice versa. The course attends to the organization of both “private” and “public” spaces, and the spaces in between, and the kinds of healing that are practiced in and around them. The structure of the course privileges the spatial over the temporal, taking students on a sort of guided tour of healing spaces: from inside the home, out onto the street, and towards spaces such as emergency rooms, waiting rooms, and even ships.


Weekly assignments include live talks, response papers, discussion forum posts, and contributions to discussions on VoiceThread. If you are taking this course as part of the online MA in the History of Medicine, your final assignment is to generate a long-form proposal for a research paper based on primary sources that will form the basis of a research paper next term. If you are registered as a non-degree student, you can either produce a research paper proposal, a wiki entry or a Story Map. Suggestions for final assignment topics can be found at the end of the full syllabus (link below) and on the CoursePlus website.

See here for the most recent copy of the syllabus (nb: subject to minor changes until the course begins).

Course Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the basic geographical concepts of space, place, and mobility.
  • Identify, using specific examples, the ways in which space, place and healing practices are mutually productive.
  • Design a research proposal, wiki, or Story Map that analyzes the healing practices of a space or particular place, integrating approaches and methods from history and geography.
Topics Covered
  • History, Geography and Healing
  • Healing at Home
  • Healing on the Street
  • The Waiting Room
  • The Ambulance
  • The Emergency Room
  • Spas and Resorts
  • Healing on water: Ships
  • Healing from Anyplace
Course Prerequisites

Introduction to the History of Medicine

Course Faculty

Graham Mooney, PhD, gmooney3@jhmi.edu