History | Colloq in Comparative History
H699 | 19027 | K. Maglen

Topic: Modernization of Health and Medicine: Major Themes in the
History of Medicine since 1750.

Histories of medicine have been written from a variety of
perspectives, from grand narratives of medical progress, to
biographies of individual patients or practitioners. They have been
approached from different disciplines such as history, sociology,
anthropology and medicine. This course will provide an introduction
to some of the key themes, discourses and debates in the history of
modern western medicine over the last two centuries. It will
encourage students to explore these themes as more than a litany of
heroic discoveries, great men and scientific progress and introduces
students to a series of ongoing debates within the social history of
medicine, situating sickness, disease and the provision of medical
care in broad social, demographic, economic, political and cultural
contexts. The course aims to provide a deep understanding of how
these different contexts has shaped medical thought and the
provision of health care.

Some of the themes we will examine will include: the roles of
patients, doctors and the state in medicine; the uneasy relationship
between physicians and corpses; the changing roles of men and women
in childbirth; how medicine has been delivered and by whom; and how
medicine has been perceived and has reflected and contributed to
society. We will explore the inter-relationship between medicine and
urban living, and see how war has affected medical practices and
concepts of disease. The way sanity and insanity, as well as the
healthy and unhealthy body, have been defined by medical discourse
will be examined. In addition, we will consider the experiences,
responsibilities, beliefs and perceptions of ordinary people dealing
with matters of life and death  health, illness, birth, death,
prevention, and treatment  in the modern world.