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Perspectives on audiences and impact

Historians interact with a variety of audiences. In the history of medicine – our focus – audiences include government committees and commissions dealing with ethical issues in biomedicine; journalists asking for historical perspectives on new discoveries as well as abuses and controversies in medicine; curators and visitors at museums; sometimes even medical researchers utilizing historical material. A particularly prominent audience for historians of medicine is in health care, students as well as practitioners. An important aim of the book is to challenge the idea that communication between researchers and their audiences is unidirectional. This is achieved by employing a media theoretical perspective to discuss how historians create audiences for academic knowledge production (‘audiencing’). The theme is opportune not least because the measurement of ‘impact’ is rapidly becoming a policy tool. The book’s 10 chapters explore the history of medicine’s relationships with its audiences, from the early twentieth century to the present. Throughout the authors discuss how historians of medicine and others have interacted with and impacted audiences. Topics include medical education, policy-making, exhibitions and museums, film and television.

Ludmilla Jordanova

medicine with its diverse interest groups, stakeholders, consumers and publics. How does ‘audience’ help us to probe the experiences of reading, viewing art or walking through a building – all activities that are relevant to the history of medicine and amenable to forms of analysis that give due weight to reception, that is, to participants’ reactions? Perhaps it is best to treat ‘audience’ as a holding term that helps scholars to open up diverse

in Communicating the history of medicine
Rosalie David

Ancient medical and healing systems are currently attracting considerable interest. This issue includes interdisciplinary studies which focus on new perceptions of some ancient and medieval medical systems, exploring how they related to each other, and assessing their contribution to modern society. It is shown that pre-Greek medicine included some rational elements, and that Egyptian and Babylonian medical systems contributed to a tradition which led from classical antiquity through the Middle Ages and beyond. The reliability of sources of evidence is considered, as well as the legacy of the ancient healing environments (temples and healing sanctuaries) and disease treatments (including surgical procedures and pharmaceutical preparations). Finally, where documentation survives, the legacy of social attitudes to health and disease is considered. Overarching principles directed policies of social medicine and healthcare in antiquity and the Middle Ages: for example, the causes and transmission routes of infectious diseases, as well as the basic principles of sterilization, were unknown, but nevertheless attempts were made to improve sanitation, provide clean water, and ensure access to trained physicians. In some cases, the need to limit the size of the population prompted the use of contraceptive measures, and surviving information also illuminates attitudes to deformity, disability and the treatment of the terminally ill.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Rosalie David

Preserved human remains from ancient Egypt provide an unparalleled opportunity for studies in the history of disease and medical practices. Egyptian medical papyri describe physiological concepts, disease diagnoses and prescribed treatments which include both ‘irrational’,(magical) and ‘rational’ (surgical and pharmaceutical) procedures. Many previous studies of Egyptian medicine have concluded that ‘irrational’ methods predominated, but this perception is increasingly challenged by results from scientific studies of ancient human remains (including autopsy, radiology, endoscopy, palaeohistology and immunological and molecular analyses), and plant materials. This paper demonstrates the significant contribution being made by multidisciplinary studies to our understanding of disease occurrence and medical treatments in ancient Egypt, and considers the feasibility of developing epidemiological comparisons of ancient and modern data sets that will provide acceptable historical contexts for contemporary disease studies.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Patient organisations and health consumerism in Britain
Author: Alex Mold

Over the last fifty years, British patients have been made into consumers. This book considers how and why the figure of the patient-consumer was brought into being, paying particular attention to the role played by patient organisations. Making the Patient-Consumer explores the development of patient-consumerism from the 1960s to 2010 in relation to seven key areas. Patient autonomy, representation, complaint, rights, information, voice and choice were all central to the making of the patient-consumer. These concepts were used initially by patient organisations to construct the figure of the patient-consumer, but by the 1990s the government had taken over as the main actor shaping ideas about patient consumerism. Making the Patient-Consumer is the first empirical, historical account of a fundamental shift in modern British health policy and practice. The book will be of use to historians, public policy analysts and all those attempting to better understand the nature of contemporary healthcare.

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Audiences and stakeholders in the history of medicine
Solveig Jülich and Sven Widmalm

film is one example where their research may be said to have a societal ‘impact’, though often blunted for dramaturgical reasons, and sometimes made invisible because historical knowledge is seen as a commons (a resource generally available free of charge) where the crediting of authorship does not always seem necessary. In the history of medicine – our focus in this book – other audiences include government committees and commissions dealing

in Communicating the history of medicine
A casebook from Shakespeare's Stratford
Author: Greg Wells

This is the first complete English translation of the medical casebook of John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law. Greg Wells has produced a groundbreaking new study which significantly refocuses our attention on John Hall’s scholarship, as well as his compassion. Hall’s community of patients, their illnesses and his treatments are all authoritatively represented. But so too is Hall’s own library. In looking again at Hall’s Latin manuscript, Wells has been able to identify Hall’s many borrowings from other medical textbooks, thereby offering a unique insight into the intellectual climate of early seventeenth-century Stratford-upon-Avon. We have been relying on an abridged version of Hall’s casebook for over three centuries. Wells corrects and augments all previous studies, and in so doing retrieves the hitherto unnoticed conversations that Hall had with his patients, his prayers for their well-being, and thanksgivings for their recovery. John Hall emerges as a scholar physician who was immersed in the best thinking and practice of his age, who regularly consulted sixty books within his easy reach in order to treat all levels of society. Presented in association with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, this generously illustrated edition includes portraits of some of Hall’s patients, pictures of some of the houses he travelled to in order to cure them, of the herbs and plants he most frequently used, and of the kinds of medical equipment on which he relied.

Open Access (free)
Medicine and culture in the nineteenth century

This collaborative volume explores changing perceptions of health and disease in the context of the burgeoning global modernities of the long nineteenth century. During this period, popular and medical understandings of the mind and body were challenged, modified, and reframed by the politics and structures of ‘modern life’, understood in industrial, social, commercial, and technological terms. Bringing together work by leading international scholars, this volume demonstrates how a multiplicity of medical practices were organised around new and evolving definitions of the modern self. The study offers varying and culturally specific definitions of what constituted medical modernity for practitioners around the world in this period. Chapters examine the ways in which cancer, suicide, and social degeneration were seen as products of the stresses and strains of ‘new’ ways of living in the nineteenth century, and explore the legal, institutional, and intellectual changes that contributed to both positive and negative understandings of modern medical practice. The volume traces the ways in which physiological and psychological problems were being constituted in relation to each other, and to their social contexts, and offers new ways of contextualising the problems of modernity facing us in the twenty-first century.

Managing madness in early nineteenth-century asylums

An archaeology of lunacy examines the historic lunatic asylum from an interdisciplinary perspective, employing methods drawn from archaeology, social geography, and history to create a holistic view of the built heritage of the asylum as a distinctive building type. In the popular imagination, historic lunatic asylums were dark, monolithic, and homogenous, instruments for social confinement and punishment. This book aims to redress this historical reputation, showing how the built environment and material worlds of lunatic asylums were distinctive and idiosyncratic – and highly regional. They were also progressive spaces and proving grounds of architectural experimentation, where the reformed treatment practices known as moral management were trialled and refined. The standing remains of the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum system represent a unique opportunity to study a building-type in active transition, both materially and ideologically. When they were constructed, asylums were a composite of reform ideals, architectural materials, and innovative design approaches. An archaeological study of these institutions can offer a materially focused examination of how the buildings worked on a daily basis. This study combines critical analysis of the architecture, material remains, and historical documentary sources for lunatic asylums in England and Ireland. Students and scholars of later historical archaeology and built heritage will find the book a useful overview of this institutional site type, while historians of medicine will find the focus on interior design and architecture of use. The general public, for whom asylums frequently represent shadowy ruins or anonymous redevelopments, may be interested in learning more about the buildings.

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A history of a medical specialty in modern Britain, c. 1789–2000

Since the 1990s, the English-speaking world has seen the rise of a neuroculture derived from neurology and neuroscience. The Neurologists is a book that asks how did we arrive at this moment? What is it about neurology and neuroscience that makes neuroculture seem self-evident? To tell this story The Neurologists charts a chronological course from the time of the French Revolution to after the ‘Decade of the Brain’ that outlines the rise of medical and scientific neurology and the emergence of neuroculture. With its focus chiefly on Great Britain, arguably the place where it all began, The Neurologists describes how Victorian physicians located in a medical culture that privileged general knowledge over narrow specialism came to be transformed into the specialized physicians now called neurologists. The Neurologists therefore recasts the received history of neurology and the history of professions and specialties. It provides new insights into the social, cultural, and institutional practices of British medical and scientific culture in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Delving into how and why physicians and scientists were interested in nerves, the nervous system, the brain, and the psyche, The Neurologists explores how Renaissance-styled men and women of medicine and science made neurology the medical field seemingly most concerned by the ‘philosophical status of man.’