How Physicians know

About the project

Observation in the clinic, testing in the laboratory, curve-tracing machines: we may think we know how physicians know. We don’t. That is because we have ignored the primary medium in which medical knowledge occurs: writing and its ordering and reordering on paper. Medicine shares the techniques of this with other areas of life. For more than 500 years … more

Research Areas
Physicians’ ways of knowing are investigated in the project through individual and group work across foci that are complementary in theme and period. Together these open up the prospect of a history of knowledge society … more

Bookkeeping in
General shop and study, registers in hospital administration and in libraries, notetaking from books and bedsides, genres of the expert opinion common to law and medicine: the past is rich in ways of writing things down and organizing thought and action on paper. This range is reflected in the activities of the research group … more


June 2016
Call for Papers/Call for Participants in a Working Group on
Accounting for Health: Economic Practices and Medical Knowledge, 1500–1970
June,17th–19th 2016
Oliver Falk & Axel C. Hüntelmann

The third working group of the ERC project “Ways of Writing. How physicians know, 1550-1950″ invite scholars from a wide variety of relevant fields to examine and to discuss the longue durée of medicine and economy, focusing on practices and values of economic and medical knowing. The working group will convene three times in 2016–17 in Berlin with the purpose of producing a truly collective volume. Using this mode of collaborative work the contributions will be discussed at the workshops, with feedback from participants and invited commentators.
Meetings will take place in June (17th–19th) 2016, in December (2nd–4th) 2016 and in late Spring 2017. Travel and accommodation will be reimbursed.
Proposals of up to 300 words should be sent by 11th March 2016 to:

Further Informations: Acc for health final 2016-01-13

WundenmannOn 7th and 8th of January 2016 the workshop Das medizinische Gutachten. Genre und Praxis in der Geschichte (16.-20. Jhd.) will take place at Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL), Berlin, planned by the ERC research group in cooperation with the ZfL and the Institute for German Literature of Humboldt University of Berlin.
The papers will be pre-circulated, a registration until 20th December 2015 is mandatory:
[Workshop_Das medizinische Gutachten_III_1.2015]

ERC research group on course of lectures in USA und Canada:
11 November 2015 in Montreal
Volker Hess: The Paper Machine of Clinical Research in the Early-20th Century – Social Studies of Medicine Seminar, McGill University, Montreal
16 November 2015 in Los Angeles, CA
Volker Hess: Thinking in Cases. Writing as Practice in Early Modern Medicine, Colloquium of the UCLA History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
18 November 2015 in Standford, CA
Andrew Mendelsohn: Learning in Public: Physicians, Barber-Surgeons, Lawyers, Housewives, Councilors, Neighbors in Early Modern German Communities. CMEMS Workshop: The Long Durée. Time, Rythm, and the Pace of the Premodern Experience. Stanford University, Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies
19-22 November 2015 in San Francisco, CA
ERC Paper technology at the HSS Meeting 2015 (History of Science Society)
Roundtable: Worlds on Paper: How Do They Matter for History of Science?, Andrew Mendelsohn (Organizer), Alix Cooper (State University of New York – Stony Brook), Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter), Ann Blair (Harvard University), Volker Hess

On 5th and 6th June 2015, the workshop Specimen, Text, Image: Herbaria and Paper Technology will take place at Forschungszentrum Gotha, planned by the ERC research group [2015_Schedule for Herbaria Workshop at Gotha June 5-6].

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (grant agreement No 509095).