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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

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.

Synchronicity in Historical Research and Archiving Humanitarian Missions
Bertrand Taithe
Mickaël le Paih
, and
Fabrice Weissman

impact. These are histories we need to learn from. Bertrand: To return on the Cambodian project, the mission was to develop screening, to identify treatments and to deliver curative solutions thanks to an unusually effective ‘magic bullet’ – of a kind one does not encounter much in the history of medicine [sofosbuvir, a drug developed by Gilead] – at a price that campaigners, including from MSF, managed to bring down to a fraction of its initial costing. At the end of the MSF mission, there was the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
What Lessons Can Be Drawn from Case Studies in France, the United States and Madagascar?
Hugo Carnell

International Conference on the History of Medicine and Health, Auckland, New Zealand, 1995 ( Auckland : Pyramid Press ), pp. 1 – 19 . Risse , G. B. ( 2012 ), Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco’s Chinatown ( Baltimore : The Johns Hopkins University Press

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Abstract only
Audiences and stakeholders in the history of medicine
Solveig Jülich
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

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.