Histories of Medicine

Module code: HS2240

This module starts in the 17th century and runs through to the present day, and will give you an overview of the highly contested rise of modern medicine. There will be a focus on Britain but with a broad comparative range across western and southern Europe, where you'll investigate key theories in the history of medicine.

This includes professionalisation, humoral theory, concepts of the scientific revolution, medical power and surveillance, quackery and the theoretical basis of modern bio-medicine. Seminars will be interspersed with detailed case studies of places, people, periods or events and processes. These will help you to explore the relationship between the separate spheres of ‘medicine’ and ‘science’, which has been contested at every turn.

Ultimately, you’ll argue that there is not one history of medicine, but multiple overlapping histories. In this sense, you’ll explore that idea that the modern era of bio-medicine and its structures (professional doctors, the NHS and so on) with which you are familiar, may not be all that it first seems, nor as permanent as you think.