• 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Monday Series: A Disease with No Remedy V

    By the end of the eighteenth century, many medical men had written exhaustively on the hereditary predisposition to phthisis, implementing medical hereditarianism as a social recourse for advocating social distances between elements of society. Historian Sean Quinlan argues that between 1748 and 1790, heredity in France gave doctors an idiom for diagnosis in light of… Continue Reading

  • 18th Century Medical Experts and Medical Expertise

    A brief overview of three fantastic historical papers on eighteenth century expertise and experts: Steven Shapin, “Trusting George Cheyne: Scientific Expertise, Common Sense and Moral Authority in Early Eighteenth-Century Dietetic Medicine,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 77(2): 263-297. What gives a physician his expertise, and how does one trust that expertise? Shapin addresses this issue,… Continue Reading

  • Monday Series: The Criminalized Body V

    Body-Snatching and the Criminalized Body: A Badge of a Marginalized Condition O Poverty! thou art the unpardonable offence… Thou hast neither rights, charters, immunities nor liberties![1] One of the major public conflicts with dissection stemmed from their fears of body-snatching. The shallow graves of the poor[2] were prime targets for body snatches and the ongoing… Continue Reading

  • Mind & Body: The Philosopher’s Body as a Subject

    I’ve been doing a lot of (re-)reading lately on ideas of the body and the embodiment of  knowledge on the body–mainly because I was aiming for some background reading as I prepared the CFP for the 2011  HAPSAT Conference. Some of these were based on reading summaries I prepared for Prof. Lucia Dacome’s “Body and… Continue Reading

  • Monday Series: The Criminalized Body IV

    The triumph of justice was a common theme in both the gallows and the anatomy theatre. Crowds were often drawn by the ghoulish atmosphere surrounding the high visibility punishment of the criminal at the gallows, viewing the carnivalisque mood as a restoration for moral justice. Exhibitions of public dissection reflected the “ritualization of the upside-down… Continue Reading

  • Monday Series: The Criminalized Body II

    Welcome to the second Monday Series on “The Criminalized Body.” If you missed the first one, simply click here. A Deterrent for Murder in a Culture of Dissection The 1752 “Murder Act” reads Whereas the horrid crime of murder has of late been more frequently perpetrated than formerly…it is thereby become necessary, that some further… Continue Reading