The neurologists

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.’

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‘Casper provides a marvellous and perceptive analysis of the need to understand past conflicts, contrasts, and alliances between specialist groups in their own terms.'
Tara H. Abraham, Department of History, University of Guelph
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
June 2017

‘The book is thoughtful about its theme and supported with a wealth of historical detail based on archival records; and it engages with a wide range of secondary literature.'
Roger Smith, Moscow (RU)
Gesnerus 73/2
2016

‘A most substantial and illuminating contribution, not only to the history of neurology, but also to our understanding of scientific-medical disciplines and the relationship of science to its broader context. Casper uses the confusing and often contradictory usages of the words “neurology” and “neurologist” by historical actors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as points of departure for a convincing and richly contextualized historical account of neurology and the dynamics of specialization.'
Professor Daniel Todes, The Johns Hopkins University

‘An important contribution to our understanding of specialization in medicine. Casper's carefully researched and lucidly argued study presents an illuminating picture of the way in which British neurology developed an intellectual and ultimately institutional identity separate from that of elite medicine generally. It is a complex and nuanced story that cannot be explained by technological innovation or market incentives alone. One hopes that it will inspire parallel studies of the development of other specialties in other national contexts.'
Charles Rosenberg, Harvard University

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