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Knowledge, Power and Nature 1500-1700 - Term 1 Week 9

Seminar Reading

Arrizabalaga, Jon, Roger French and John Henderson, The Great Pox: The French Pox in Renaissance Europe (New Haven, 1997), chapter: ???

Stein, Claudia, ‘The Meaning of Signs: Diagnosing the French Pox in Early Modern Augsburg,’ Bulletin of the History of Medicine 88:4 (2006):

-- ‘Getting’ the Pox: Reflections by an Historian on How to Write the History of Early Modern Disease', Nordic Journal of Science and Technology Studies 2,1 (2014): 53-60. (free online access)

Seminar/Essay Questions

  • Was the French Pox venereal syphilis?
  • What theoretical and practical strategies were available to early modern Europeans to understand the new and hitherto unknown disease of the pox?
  • Do you think retrospective diagnosis is a useful historical tool?

Further Reading

Alchon, Suzanne Austin, A Pest in the Land: New World Epidemics in a Global Perspective, 2003.

Cook, Noble David, Born to Die, Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650 (Cambridge, 1998), chapter 2.

Cook, Noble David and W. George Lovell (eds), Secret Judgements of God’: Old World Disease in Colonial Spanish America, chaps 1-3.

Cook, Noble David, “Smallpox or Bartonellosis?”: Comment on “Epidemics and Demographic Disaster in Colonial Latin America: A Reassessment”, at

Crosby, Alfred, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972), pp. 35-63.

Crosby, Alfred, ‘Virgin Soil Epidemics as a Factor in the Aboriginal Depopulation in America’, in William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Series, 33 (1976), 289-998.

Crosby, Alfred, Ecologial Empiricism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambrige, 2004)

Dobson, Mary J., ‘Mortality Gradients and Disease Exchanges: Comparison from Old England and Colonial America’, Social History of Medicine 2 (1989), pp. 259-297.

Guerra, Francisco, ‘The Earliest Epidemics: The Influenza of 1493’, Social Science History 12 (1988), 305-325.

Gruzinski, Serge, The Conquest of Mexico: The Incorporation of Indian Societies into the Western World, 16th-18th Centuries (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 81-5.

McNeill, William H., Plagues and Peoples (New York, 1976).

Bylebyl, Jerome, ‘The Manifest and the Hidden in the Renaissance Clinic’, Medicine and the Five Senses, ed. William F. Bynum and Roy Porter (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 40-60.

Cunningham, Andrew, ‘Identifying Diseases in the Past: Cutting through the Gordian Knot’, Asclepio, 2002, 54:1: 13-34.

Cunningham, Andrew, ‘Transforming Plague: The Laboratory and the Identity of Infectious Diseases’, in The Laboratory Revolution in Medicine, ed. Andrew

Cunningham and Perry Williams, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 209-4.7

Cunningham, Andrew, and Roger French, Before Science: The Invention of the Friar’s Natural Philosophy (Aldershot, 1996).

Jütte, Robert, ‘Syphilis and Confinement: Early Modern German Hospitals for Syphilitics’, Institutions of Confinement: Hospitals, Asylums, and Prisons in Western Europe and North America, 1500-1950, ed. Norbert Finszsch and Robert Jütte, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 97-116.

Maclean, Ian, Logic, Signs and Nature in the Renaissance: The Case of Learned Medicine (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 282-294.
Nutton, Vivian, ‘Humoralism’, in W.F. Bynum and Roy Porter, eds, Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine, vol. 1 (London, 1993), pp. 281-291.

Siena, Kevin P., Venereal Disease, Hospitals, and the Urban Poor: London's ‘Foul Wards’, 1600-1800 (Rochester, 2004).

Siraisi, Nancy G., ‘Disease and Symptom as Problematic Concepts in Renaissance Medicine’, Res et Verba in the Renaissance, ed. Eckhard Kessler and Ian Maclean (Wiesbaden, 2002), pp. 217-40.

-- Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine: An Introduction to Knowledge and Practice,(Chicago, 1990), chapter 4.

Stein, Claudia, Negotiating the French Pox in Early Modern Germany (Aldershot, 2009).

Wear, Andrew, ‘Epistemology and Learned Medicine in Early Modern Europe’, in Knowledge and Scholarly Medical Traditions, ed. Don Bates (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 151-174.

Wear, Andrew, Roger French and I.M. Lonie, eds., The Medical Renaissance of the Sixteenth Century, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1985).

Primary Text:

Bacon, Francis, Nova Organum (1620), extracts taken from Encompassing Nature: A Source Book: Nature and Culture from Ancient to Times to the Modern World, ed. by Robert M. Torrance (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1999), pp. 878-881.

Selections from the writings of Paracelsus taken from Encompassing Nature: A Source Book: Nature and Culture from Ancient to Times to the Modern World, ed. by Robert M. Torrance (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1999), pp.714-719.