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Medicine and Science in the Enlightenment (HI921)

Module Leader
Dr Claudia Stein


Please note that the timetable / materials available on this page are the ones used on academic year 2010-11


Context of Module
Aims and Objectives
Intended Learning Outcomes
Outline Syllabus
Illustrative Bibliography
Context of Module

This module, taught in the Spring term, may be taken by students on the MA in History, the MA in the History of Medicine, the MA in Eighteenth Century Studies, or any taught Masters students outside the History Department.


Aims and Objectives

This module will allow students to explore ideas and practices of science and medicine in Britain and western Europe from c.1450 to c.1800, a period which covers the so-called 'Scientific Revolution'. A particular concern will be to set these ideas and practices in their contexts - social, cultural, religious, political, etc. In addition, the impact of Europe's encounter with the wider world will also be examined.


Intended Learning Outcomes
  • The development of seminar participation and presentation skills
  • The ability to recognise and engage with the historiography of medicine, science and natural history
  • To provide experience of independent preparation and writing of a 5,000 word essay, including the framing of a question, the demonstration of critical engagement with recent scholarship and effective use of primary sources where appropriate, independent evaluation of contrasting evidence and interpretations, the formulation of conclusions and the creation of an extensive and specialist bibliography and scholarly apparatus
  • The ability to build on themes and skills related to the module to develop a dissertation topic.
Outline Syllabus

Some changes may be made, depending on the focus of student interests.

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: What is Enlightenment?

Week 3: The 'Birth' of the Clinic

Week 4: Public Science: Science and Spectacle

Week 5: Scientific Facts and Human Imagination

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 7: Sentimental Science: the Case of Mesmerism

Week 8: Truth to Nature or Objectivity: Science and Visual Evidence

Week 9: Inventing Human Nature

Week 10: Final Discussion: Enlightement and Postmodernity


Illustrative Bibliography

M.Biagioli, Galileo Courtier (1993)

A. Cunningham, The Anatomical Renaissance (1997)

A. Cunningham, Religio Medica: Medicine and Religion in 17th-century England (1996)

R. Darnton, Mesmerism and the End of the Old Regime (1968)

L. Daston & K. Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (2000)

P. Dear, Revolutionising the Sciences 1500-1700 (2000)

J. Henry, Knowledge is Power (2003)

A. Johns, The Nature of the Book (1998)

C. Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (1990)

S. Shapin, The Social History of Truth (1994)

S. Shapin, The Scientific Revolution (1996)

S. Shapin & S. Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump (1985)

L. Schiebinger, Nature's Body (1994)

L. Schiebinger, Plants and Empire (2004)

E. Spary et al. (eds), Cultures of Natural History (1996)



1 assessed essay of 5,000 words: the course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars





Dr Claudia Stein

Term Spring
Tutorial Day Wednesday


10.00am - 12.00 am

Lecture Room  H3.22
Claudia Stein