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Public Health/Private Practice (Roberta Bivins)

The nineteenth century witnessed the incursion of government, science and medicine into the realm of public health and its reform on a major scale. It also saw numerous private responses to matters of health and hygiene, some prompted by a variety of reforming agencies and some urged by householders themselves. This week we look at the relationship between these two spheres of intervention and activity, drawing on a selection of primary source materials and official reports – as well as a selection of the extensive secondary literature - to closely interrogate approaches to changing urban environments, the public, community, domestic and private, as well as attitudes towards social class, ethnicity and ‘otherness’. It explores too how scientific ideas entered the home and the responses they triggered e.g. with regard to theories of disease causation. These responses also illuminate divergent and competing attitudes towards health reform and its implications as well as resistance to the interventions of government.

Required Readings

For primary source material, please spend some time before the seminar browsing the following websites, and identify one or two examples that you would like to discuss in the seminar: (On reports by London's Medical Officers of Health) and (On images relating to sanitary reform)

Read also the small packet of late twentieth century sources related to immigration (Uploaded here).

  • Chris Hamlin, ‘Public Health’, in Mark Jackson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (2011), 411-28. e-book
  • Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context (1995), esp. chapter 5: 'Soft-Soaping Empire: Commodity Racism and Imperial Advertising', 207-31. e-book
  • Graham Mooney, ‘Public Health versus Private Practice: The Contested Development of Compulsory Infectious Disease Notification in Late-Nineteenth-Century Britain’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 73 (1999), 238-67. e-journal
  • Michael Sigsworth and Michael Worboys, ‘The Public’s View of Public Health in Mid-Victorian Britain’, Urban History, 21 (1994), 237-50. e-journal

COMPARE these British histories with one or two non-British case studies below:

  • Katherine Vester, 'Regime Change: Gender, Class, and the Invention of Dieting in Post-Bellum America', Journal of Social History, 44 (2010), 39-70. Project Muse
  • Ann F. La Berge, 'Medicalization and Moralization: The Crèches of Nineteenth-Century Paris', Journal of Social History, 25 (1991), 65-87. Project Muse

And one or two from the selection below (you will need to divide this reading up as there are only one or two copies of some of the books in the library; Social History of Medicine is available as an e-journal):

Further Reading

  • Michelle Allen, Cleansing the City: Sanitary Geographies in Victorian London (2008).
  • Ben Campkin and Rosie Cox (eds), Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination (2007). e-book
  • William Cohen and Ryan Johnson (eds), Filth: Dirt, Disgust and Modern Life (2005).
  • Erin O’Connor, Raw Material: Producing Pathology in Victorian Culture (2000), chapter 1.
  • Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the Social Imagination (1996). e-book
  • Nadia Durbach, ‘“They Might As Well Brand Us”: Working-Class Resistance to Compulsory Vaccination in Victorian England’, Social History of Medicine, 13 (2000), 45-63. e-journal
  • Pamela K. Gilbert, ‘Producing the Public: Public Medicine in Private Space’,in Steve Sturdy (ed.), Medicine, Health and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1600–2000 (2002), 43-59. scanned article
  • Pamela K. Gilbert, The Citizen’s Body: Desire, Health, and the Social in Victorian England (2007).
  • Pamela K. Gilbert, Mapping the Victorian Social Body (2004), Section II.
  • Chris Hamlin, Public Health and Social Justice in the Age of Chadwick: Britain, 1800-1854 (1998).
  • Alan Kraut, Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the ‘Immigrant Menace’ (1994).
  • Graham Mooney, ‘Professionalization in Public Health and the Measurement of Sanitary Progress in Nineteenth-Century England and Wales’, Social History of Medicine, 10 (1997), 53-78. e-journal
  • Lynda Nead, 'Maps and Sewers,' in idem, Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-Century London (2000), 14-26. multiple copies in library
  • Mary Poovey, ‘Domesticity and Class Formation: Chadwick’s 1842 Sanitary Report’, in idem, Making a Social Body: British Cultural Formation 1830-1864 (1995), 115-31. multiple copies in library
  • Jonathan P. Ribner, 'The Thames and Sin in the Age of the Great Stink: Some Artistic and Literary Responses to a Victorian Environmental Crisis,' The British Art Journal, 1, no. 2 (spring 2000): 38-46. e-journal
  • Nancy Tomes, The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life (1998). e-book
  • Perry Williams, ‘The Laws of Health: Women, Medicine and Sanitary Reform 1850-1890', in Marina Benjamin (ed.), Science and Sensibility: Gender and Scientific Enquiry 1780-1945 (1991), 60-88. scanned article