The concept of contagion is entangled with so many themes in the history of medicine that any on-line collection on the subject can hardly fail to generate interest among the scholarly community. Harvard University’s Contagion: Historical Views of Disease and Epidemics does not disappoint.
In November of 2011, I listened to Dr Samuel Alberti present a paper on ‘Body parts in Bart's’ – one of a series of seminars held in St Bartholomew’s pathological museum in West Smithfield. The museum is a cavernous room surrounded on all sides by glass specimen jars, making the visitor feel it is they who are as much under scrutiny as the specimens themselves.
Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska’s new history of the body, health and fitness in Britain is a wide-reaching and detailed study of relevant cultural practices and government policies between the Victorian period and the eve of the Second World War.
Performing Medicine, an exploration of the transformation of the cultures, values and meanings of medicine across the late 18th and early 19th centuries, constitutes a new and welcome contribution to the historiography of medical life and the creation of a modern medical profession.
The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine appears at a critical moment for medical history; in a period when its practitioners are being forced to re-evaluate their aims and agendas in the face of shifting funding priorities and disciplinary angst. Just a few years, one leading medical historian publicly declared that medical history was ‘dead’, or was at least heading that way.
From the advent of the new social history, the patient has received extensive attention from historians of medicine.
Military men, as histories of the Royal Navy in particular have shown, tend to be interested in controlling sanitary conditions. Among seamen, maintaining health was always essential otherwise ships could not remain at sea. The main theme of Dr. Katherine Foxhall’s interesting book is voyages to Australia.
In the late 19th century, the issue of infanticide captured the attention of a significant number of journalists, psychiatric and medical writers and social commentators. The act of intentionally killing an infant within 24 hours of its birth was by no means new to this period.
I could say this is a story of two halves but I can’t bear football, so I won’t. Instead I will say that this book is both a narrative about the polio virus (particularly in America), its long history and the drive to treat and prevent it and it is a rich unfolding of the complex and messy tale of medical research.
Introducing a 1996 translation of Alain Corbin’s now seminal work on the history of scent, The Foul and the Fragrant, Roy Porter lamented that ‘today’s history comes deodorized’.(1) As Jonathan Reinarz shows in this historical synthesis of recent work on the history of smell, Porter’s complaint has since been enthusiastically answered.