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Modernity and Medicine (MathewThomson)

This seminar reviews the changes in medicine, health care, and attitudes towards disease brought about by a series of changes associated with the onset and challenges of ‘modernity’. Most obviously, this entails consideration of a series of top-down processes: the impact of the rise of the nation, the state, and associated new bureaucracies, professions, and modes of governmental intervention and surveillance; the response to new problems and new awareness resulting from urbanisation and new modes of production associated with industrialisation; and the degree to which war acted as a stimulus for development. It also demands consideration of developments more internal to medicine: the discovery of microbes and genes; new technologies for seeing and testing the functions of the body; and new modes of organisation, entailing increased specialisation, and the increasing prominence of sites such as the laboratory and the clinic. However, it also calls for consideration of responses to modernity from below: the influence of ideas of citizenship; the increasing importance of demand arising from the advance of prosperity and a culture of consumption; and the ambivalence and even opposition in some circles towards the materialism of modern biomedicine.

Seminar Reading

David Armstrong, ‘The New Hygiene of the Dispensary’, in Political Anatomy of the Body: Medical Knowledge in Britain in the Twentieth Century (1983), pp. 7-18.

Brandt, Alan & Gardner, Martha, ‘The Golden Age of Medicine?’, in Roger Cooter & John Pickstone, (eds.) Medicine in the Twentieth Century (2000), pp. 21-37.

Cantor, David, ‘The Diseased Body’, in Cooter & Pickstone, Medicine in the Twentieth Century, pp. 347-66.

Pickstone, John, ‘Production, Community and Consumption: The Political Economy of Twentieth-Century Medicine’, in Cooter & Pickstone, Medicine in the Twentieth Century, pp. 1-19.

Further Reading

Armstrong, David, Political Anatomy of the Body: Medical Knowledge in Britain in the Twentieth Century (1983).

Cooter, Roger, ‘War and Modern Medicine’, in William Bynum and Roy Porter (eds.), Encyclopaedia of the History of Medicine Volume 2, pp. 1536-73.

Cooter, Roger & Pickstone, John (eds.), Medicine in the 20th Century (2000)

Cooter, Roger & Sturdy, Steve, ‘Science, Scientific Management and the Transformation of Medicine in Britain, c. 1870-1950’, History of Science, 36 (1998), 1-47.

Lawrence, Chris, ‘Incommunicable Knowledge: Science, Technology, and the Clinical Art in Britain, 1850-1914’, Journal of Contemporary History, 20 (1985): 503-20.

Lawrence, Chris, Medicine in the Making of Modern Britain, 1700-1920 (1994).

Thomson, Mathew, ‘Psychology and the Consciousness of Modernity’, in B. Rieger & M. Daunton (eds), Meaning of Modernity (2001), pp. 97-115.