Medicine in History
This course surveys the history of Western medical knowledge and practice from antiquity to the present. The course has two principal goals: (1) to give students a practical introduction to the fundamental questions and methods of the history of medicine, and (2) to foster an understanding of social and scientific issues surrounding health and healing in both the past and present. We will explore the relationships between patients, medical knowledge, medical practitioners, and society – embracing the idea that medicine and healing have had different meanings across time and place. Lectures and discussions will take the long-discredited knowledge and treatments of the past seriously, rather than judging them by today’s standards. Students will learn to think critically about their relationships to our contemporary medical system and to their own bodies as we will explore how social, economic, geographic, and historical location influence people’s medical experiences and beliefs.