Volker Hess

t: +49 30 450 529 031

volker hess

Hess studies History of Medicine in the science and practice. Trained in medicine and philosophy, he entered the academia with analyzing the hospital as institution and space in which medical concepts, scientific theories, state interests, public demands, economic restraints and educational functions are negotiated.

His first book, Von der semiotischen zur diagnostischen Medizin (1992) developed an intellectual history of the rise of modern medical thinking. The second book Der wohltemperierte Mensch (2000) transferred the concept of “thick description“ into the history of medicine with focusing on the “little instrument“ of measuring temperature. The book covers how the warmth of the body could be translated into categories of disease. It introduces various approaches from discourse analyses to the body history. More recently, he has turned to cultural history of medicine.

Volker Hess is the chair of the Institute for History of Medicine at the Charité Medical School and also affiliated professor at the History Department of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He is a member of the research training group “Gender as a category of knowledge“ at the Institute of Culture Studies. He is chairing a DFG (German Research Foundation) research group on the topic of the “Cultures of madness“. This research group is studying the border areas of normality in the growing Berlin metropole in 1900. He is also chairing the research networking program “DRUGS“, a program funded by the European Science Foundation to study the trajectories of drug standardization since 2008. In 2011 he has been awarded the Advanced Investigator Grant from the European Research Council for a new collaborative project (together with Andrew Mendelsohn) in reconstructing the “paper technologies“ of medical practices (Case and Series in History of Science 2010).

Basic publications for the last years

  • Psychochemicals crossing the wall. Die Einführung der Psychopharmaka in die DDR aus der Perspektive der neueren Arzneimittelgeschichte. Medizinhistorisches Journal 42 (2007), 61-84
  • Formalisierte Beobachtung. Die Genese der modernen Krankenakte am Beispiel der Berliner und Pariser Medizin (1725-1830). Medizinhistorisches Journal 45 (2010), 293-340
  • with J. Andrew Mendelsohn: Case and series: Medical knowledge and paper technology,1600-1900. History of Science 48 (2010), 287-314
  • with Benoît Majerus: Writing the history of psychiatry in the 20th century. History of Psychiatry 22 (2011), 144-154
  • with J. Andrew Mendelsohn: Paper Technology und Wissensgeschichte. NTM. Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 21 (2013), 1-10