• Syphilitic Invasions of the Ear

    The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice has a wonderful post on Georgian prostitution and syphilis, which inspired me to dig up my research notebooks and uncover what nineteenth-century aurists wrote about syphilis and deafness. Syphilis is a fascinating topic. In nineteenth-century London, people were quite aware of the gruesome and devastating aspects of the disease. The memoirs of… Continue Reading

  • What do you do when you’re sick?

    I like to ask my students this question at the beginning of the term to help them get a mindset of what disease and illness was like in the early modern period and medieval ages. When confronted with the inevitable reality of disease, how did people of the Middle Ages react? Of the different forms… Continue Reading

  • Leigh’s New Picture of London

    On the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb (est. 1792): By this excellent institution, extensive and successful arrangements are made to teach even the deaf and dumb! So long ago as 1653, the celebrated Dr. Wallis first laid down the principles by which the deaf and dumb might be instructed, (Vide the Philosophical Transactions… Continue Reading

  • Historiography of the Market for Health

    Parallel to my research on socio-educational institutions for the deaf, I’m hoping to tie together themes of technological progress, entrepreneurialism and consumerism with the broad and diverse medical community and marketplace—what we can aptly call medical pluralism. There’s been a lot of historical scholarship on the complex dynamics that wove together a diverse group of… Continue Reading

  • From comme les monstres to hommes de la nature

    The afternoon of 1799, drew attention to the Théâtre de la République, where just five weeks after Napoleon’s seizure of power, the dramatist Jean-Nicolas Bouilly (1763-1842) was showcasing his new play, L’Abbé de l’Épée. A comedy in five acts, the play dramatized a fictionalized version of the case of the Comte de Solar, a young… Continue Reading

  • Histories of Deaf Histories

    One of the agendas of my dissertation is to build a steady bridge between scholarship from the history of medicine and scholarship from Deaf and Disability Studies. Granted, as part of my education at IHPST, my research has been lopsided, for I’ve concentrated more on the history of medicine and technologies (especially relating to medical… Continue Reading

  • The Surgeon’s Plan: Tympanic Membrane Perforation

    By the nineteenth century, Sir Astley Paston Cooper (1768-1841), surgeon to Guy’s Hospital, outlined his observation that puncture of the tympanic membrane could be effective in draining out collections of fluid in the middle ear, and hence, improve a particular type of deafness. Cooper’s work was inspired in part by his friend Sir Everard Home… Continue Reading

  • The Catheter

    Valsalva’s De aure remained one of the standard treatises on the ear and the Valsalva maneuver gained popularity among physicians and surgeons for diagnosing sources of blockages in the ear. The maneuver, however, contained little therapeutic benefits for cases in which there weren’t blockages in the tube or associated parts of the ear; moreover, it… Continue Reading

  • A Brief History of the Eustachian Tube

    The Eustachian tube is a passageway that lies between the middle ear and the pharynx, the upper part of the mouth located just below the top of the nose. One of the primary functions of the tube is to equalize ear pressure between the middle ear and the atmosphere; most of the time the tube… Continue Reading

  • Quack Curers for the Deaf

    During the 1830s, Alexander Turnbull (c.1794-1881), advertised a remedy he conjured, which he professed was capable of curing any cases of deafness not arising from organic disease. In particular, he advocated the use of veratria, a poisonous alkaloid obtained from the hellebore root, as an ointment applied to the external ear; the same treatment, along… Continue Reading

  • Monday Series: Constructing the (Naked) Social Body II

    THE HISTORY OF THE BODY Before continuing with my examination of the ideology of Nacktkultur and its respective relationships with the social body, I will first briefly outline what constitutes as a history of the body. Scholarship based upon the works of Foucault has emphasized the role of the body as a vehicle of social… Continue Reading