Research Areas

Case and Series
Handling a case begins and ends with particulars, whereas medical knowledge seeks generalizations. This tension between case and series characterizes the ways physicians know and how these have changed over time. [History of Science 2010]

Physician and Polity // State and Society
Physicians and surgeons have been involved for centuries in governance and the emergence and everyday operation of the modern state. With what effect on medical knowing? With what effect on government and society?

Medicine and Natural History
Whether in the botanical garden or the cabinet of curiosities, the republic of letters or the scientific voyage, physicians made up a remarkable proportion of European naturalists, from the Renaissance through the 19th century. How did taking note(s) of naturalia and of illness affect one another? What happens to medical know-how when physicians devote themselves to making herbaria, inventories, travel reports, or exchanging and collecting specimens and descriptions of plants, animals, minerals? These questions are central to the project. [more]

The Hospital in the Clinic
The late medieval hospital already featured fundamental instruments of operation: admissions register, supply account and meal plan, invoicing and inventory. In later centuries, this paper technology of running an institution grew enormously in size and complexity. Did these everyday practices on and around paper shape medical training and research before, during, and after the birth of the clinic — the rise of bedside and morgue instruction — in the hospital? How did division, mechanization, and rationalization of hospital work affect bedside observation? Our studies are beginning to yield answers to these questions [more]. Further studies are underway. [more]

Welfare and the Data of Health
From early modern times, physicians were required to report on the extent and kinds of illness in their towns and regions, on the outcomes of treatments and preventive measures, on the conditions of weather and land. This activity was elaborated by the growth of public health systems. [more]  [Call for Applications]

Classifying Disease
Prognosis and diagnosis are foundations of the medical art. Judging the patient’s condition, exploring causes, and predicting course and outcome are all bound in various ways to the practice of dividing up and naming of disease. [more]

Paper Subjects
Clinical paper techniques are always also techniques of subjectification, in two senses. First, the sick person is the subject of the physician’s task and treatment. Second, practices of recording and documenting can be understood as technologies of the self for both patient and physician. [more]

Between Justice, Medicine, and Police
Expert opinions, consilia, Gutachten, rapports have issued from the pen of physicians and surgeons since the 16th century, usually in genres or forms shared with the jurists and regularly in the same cases with jurists’ opinions. Occasions for this practice ranged from issues of justice (woundings, deaths) to issues of police in the early modern sense (inspection, as for leprosy) to issues of quality control (drugs, foodstuffs, medical interventions) and beyond. [more]

Pathology: Slice and Write
On 10 December 1931 a tissue sample arrived at the Strasbourg Institute for Pathological Anatomy (IAP), not from some nearby hospital, but from Hanoi. The sample was given the identification number n°3563. This number was keyed not to a person, but to a group of samples, thus rendering it part of another pathological “body.” [more]

Learning by Writing
We know that physicians-in-training read and commented on the Hippocratic aphorisms, but we do not know why and what role this activity played in the transmission of medical knowledge. [more]