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Medical culture and identity in provincial England, c.1760–1850
Author: Michael Brown

This book talks about late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English medical culture, a study of what it meant to be a doctor and how this changed over time. It presents a brief overview of the social, economic and cultural landscape of late eighteenth-century York. Medical culture and identity in late eighteenth-century York took shape within a social landscape shaped by the values of gentility, polite sociability and civic belonging. The book examines the role of intellectual liberality, demonstrating how public displays of polite and 'ornamental' learning were central to the performance of medico-gentility. It explores the incipient demise of this culture. Through a close reading of a scandal which enveloped the York Lunatic Asylum, it also explores the ways in which medical identities founded upon gentility and politeness were critically undermined by the political and social factionalism. The book looks at medical involvement in the provincial scientific movement, examining how local medical men positioned themselves relative to the so-called 'march of intellect', the cultural and ideological alignment between science and social reform. It continues this analysis in relation to the cholera epidemic of 1832 and other medico-political activities. The book considers how the professional dominion over healthcare was forged by the dual processes of inclusion and exclusion. It discusses the foundation of the Medical School in 1834 against the trial, in the same year, of a local salesman for James Morison's 'Universal Vegetable Medicine'.

Medicine and the world of letters
Michael Brown

clearly evinced by the high esteem of all who know you. Not to mention the happiness of your friendship, your distinguished learning, as a Gentleman and a Scholar, adorned with every social virtue and sound principle of religion and morality.3 If Withers admired these genteel qualities in his friends, he thought them essential to the very character of the physician. His text, a veritable exposition of medico-gentility, offered instruction on all aspects of social performance, ranging from the benefits of fencing and dancing for the cultivation of a ‘firm, easy and

in Performing medicine
Politics, reform and the demise of medico-gentility
Michael Brown

3 The asylum revolution: politics, reform and the demise of medico-gentility [W]hat man of civilized feelings or gentlemanly habits – what man of property or of respectable rank in society – what man of learning or of character, will engage in the care or treatment of this unfortunate class of mortals? They must be left in the care of the vulgar, illiterate, and robust keeper, and the ‘Mind’ that might have been solaced and restored by the influence of manner and education, must be overthrown, debased, lost. A. Mather, A Plain Narrative of Facts relative to the

in Performing medicine
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Michael Brown

three of these cover the period from around 1760 to about 1815 and examine the construction, elaboration and eventual demise of what I refer to as ‘medico-gentility’, a culture of medicine in which identity and social performance were structured by aspirations to gentility and were framed by the values of politeness, sociability and civic engagement. Chapter 1 opens with a brief overview of the social, economic and cultural landscape of late eighteenth-century York before considering how forms of sociability, such as the urban club, as well as more general social

in Performing medicine
Social progressivism and the transformation of provincial medicine
Michael Brown

transformation . . . involve[d] the drawing of boundaries and the codification of rules in such a way as to create from what once seemed to be an undifferentiated continuum of practices and ideas new and more specialized conceptual – or imaginary – entities. This transformation occur[red] both in the register of representation (what Foucault calls the ‘order of discourse’) and in the register of materiality, producing effects that can be measured or felt.16 Within an eighteenth-century culture of medico-gentility, practitioners invested in a broad range of knowledge including

in Performing medicine
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Politeness, sociability and the culture of medico-gentility
Michael Brown

1 The Doctors Club: politeness, sociability and the culture of medico-gentility As to the general character of a physician’s manners, I see no reason why they should be different from those of a gentleman. J. Gregory, Observations on the Offices and Duties of a Physician (1770)1 I n 1763 the p reamb le to the local Cleaning and Lighting Act announced that York was the ‘Capital City of much of the Northern Parts of England . . . a place of great Resort, and much frequented by Persons of Distinction and Fortune’.2 Though undoubtedly coloured by the rhetorical

in Performing medicine
Joris Vandendriessche

for York at the turn of the nineteenth century, philanthropy was part of a wider culture of ‘medico-gentility,’ a concept with which he indicated elite physicians’ participation in a social landscape ‘shaped by the values of gentility, polite sociability and civic belonging.’36 Medical societies facilitated such civil participation, allowing their members not only to engage in philanthropy, but also to display these charitable efforts to urban society. Civil display also drove the propagation of one of the most talkedabout medical innovations of the turn of the

in Medical societies and scientific culture in nineteenth-century Belgium
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Cholera, collectivity and the care of the social body
Michael Brown

medical identity and performance. Atkinson’s book, written by an elderly, retired surgeon, epitomised the values of medico-gentility. Irreverently humorous in tone and literary in style it was intended for the amusement of the general reader and was the product of a man whose social identity was structured by an investment in polite forms of knowledge and in the extra-vocational sociability of associations such as the Doctors Club. Needham, on the other hand, was rooted in the vocationally specific cultures of the Medical Society, which he had helped to found, and was

in Performing medicine