Course Description

In this course we will explore health and healing in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Physicians from the Enlightenment onwards have rooted their claims to legitimate practice to rationalism and the advance of modern science. Nonetheless sufferers and healers worked with models of the body and disease rooted in ancient medicinal practices and used therapeutics very different from those of our own day. We examine the changing basis of European and North American medical theory and practice, the transformation of specialized spaces for healing such as the clinic, the hospital, and the asylum, the impact of epidemic diseases on the differential construction of public health systems, and the role of medicine in the construction of race, class, and ethnicity. The course focuses upon the organization of health-care, the circulation of medical knowledge, and the experiences of patients, and seeks to relate forms of healing to their social and cultural contexts.

Topics Covered
  • Living and dying in the Ancien Regime
  • Medical theory and practice
  • Institutions of medical education and care
  • The doctor-patient relationship
  • Social meanings of disease
  • Health, place and locality
  • Expert discourse on race, gender, and the body
  • Public health and sanitary reform
Course Faculty