Early modern England saw a dramatic boom in the production of printed books, and vernacular instructional manuals were one of the genres which particularly flourished. Within this genre of practical handbooks, a variety of medically orientated texts aimed a wide audience were printed. These ranged from broadsheets advertising new cures, to octavo tracts on specific diseases, to folio-sized tomes of medical counsels. What unites these texts is that they were geared not towards learned physicians but towards satisfying the needs and interests of lay men and women. These books were read, digested and pillaged for information – information which in turn formed the backbone of household medicine.
This project aims to understand how these offerings from the early modern booksellers played a role in the transmission and acquisition of lay medical knowledge. The envisioned project will assess both the wide variety of medical texts available and how readers might have engaged with these texts and utilised the information contained within to inform their medical practices.
For further information, please contact Dr Elaine Leong at E.Leong@warwick.ac.uk.