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Environment, Health and Disease (Chris Pearson)

This seminar explores the historical links between health, disease and the environment. Environmental historians – who are primarily interested in exploring the mutual relations between human beings and the rest of nature – have begun to elaborate the connections between environmental history and the history of medicine. As you read their work, please consider the following questions; how have perceptions of health and disease influenced the management of urban and rural environments? How have notions about the environment impacted on understandings of health and disease? Why have some environments been considered healthy and others unhealthy? What role do environmental factors play in the history of medicine? Does a focus on the environment open up new sources and perspectives in the study of the history of medicine?

Seminar readings

Harrison, Mark, ‘The Tender Frame of Man: Disease, Climate and Racial Difference in India and the West Indies, 1760-1869,’ Bulletin of the History of Medicine 70 (1996), 68-93

Mitman, Gregg, ‘Hayfever Holiday: Health, Leisure and Place in Gilded-Age America,’ Bulletin of the History of Medicine 77 (2003), 600-35

Nash, Linda, Inescapable Ecologies: A History of Environment, Disease and Knowledge (2006), chap 2

Platt, Harold, ‘“Clever Microbes”: Bacteriology and Sanitary Technology in Manchester and Chicago during the Progressive Age,’ Osiris 19 (2004), 149-166

Further Readings

The various articles in the special edition of Osiris 19 (2004) on ‘Landscapes of Exposure: Knowledge and Illness in Modern Environments’

Arnold, David (ed.), Warm Climates and Western Medicine: The Emergence of Tropical Medicine (1996)

Harrison, Mark, Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, Environment and British Imperialism in India, 1600-1850 (1999)

Melosi, Martin, The Sanitary City: Urban Infrastructure in America from Colonial times to the Present (2000)

Mitman, Gregg, ‘In Search of Health: Landscape and Disease in American Environmental History,’ Environmental History 10 (April 2005), 184-210

Thompson, Kenneth, ‘Wilderness and Health in the Nineteenth Century,’ Journal of Historical Geography 2 (1976), 145-61

Thorsheim, Peter, Inventing Pollution: Coal, Smoke and Culture in Britain since 1800 (2006), especially chapter 2

Valenčius, Conevery Bolton, The Health of the Country: How American settlers understood themselves and their land (2002)