This is a selection of courses offered by History of Medicine faculty. Click on a course title to see the syllabus.
140.425 Individuality in Medicine from Antiquity to the Genome Age (Comfort, Pomata)
A seminar for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. We will explore the notion of the individual in medicine over 25 centuries, from the Hippocratics to the invention of the case study during the Renaissance to the genetic, biochemical, and immunological individual in recent biomedicine.
140.629 Beyond the Panopticon: Observing, Representing and Managing People (Mooney)
A comparative and historical overview of the ways in which people have been enumerated, investigated and monitored. We will examine the long-term trajectory of state and non-state observation, emphasizing the collection and uses of data in European, colonial and post-colonial polities.
140.703 Popular Knowledge (Fissell)
The focus of this course is popular knowledge -- both that which is "popularized" and that which is popular in the sense of "of the people". In putting these two meanings together, I am asking questions rather than setting out a tidy body of secondary literature. Historians of science in the past 20 years or so have developed sophisticated ways of thinking about what "knowledge" is; historians of culture have debated and re-debated the meanings and utility of the category "popular culture". Our readings will focus on a variety of ways in which these two fields might intersect in explorations of "popular knowledge".
150.701 History of Medicine: Antiquity to the Scientific Revolution (Fissell)
Will review the social, intellectual and cultural history of Western medicine from ancient times to the seventeenth century, addressing, in particular, the following issues: the social definition of the physician's role; cultural perceptions of the body and definitions of health and illness, in their relationship to preferred forms of treatment; the epistemology of medicine; the varying relationship between medicine and religious belief.
150.702 History of Medicine II: Enlightenment to the Present (Todes)
This course will review the social, intellectual, and cultural history of Western medicine from the 18th century to the present. Emphasis is on Western medicine as the result of Western political-economic and institutional structures., cultural values, and the rise and complexities of "scientific medicine".
150.706 History of Public Health in China (Hanson)
The modern term for public health "weisheng" in China has changed in the past two centuries from the "safeguarding life" practices of individuals to the state's responsibility for the health of its citizens. This course will examine the history of public health from the earliest evidence of a state medical bureaucracy in Chineses antiquity to the modern problems of STDs, HIV/AIDS, and SARS.
150.711 History of Disease and Disease Control (Mooney, Packard)
This course examines the long history of disease and disease control from the 14th century plague to the 20th century campaign for smallpox eradication, drawing on historial materials from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin American. Emphasis is on the ways in which political, social, and economic institutions and practices influence the history of disease, its understanding, and its control.
150.713 Oral History Theory and Method (Comfort)
This graduate course will acquaint students with the range of approaches and techniques of using oral source material in historical research. We will survey the history of the field and approaches to conducting and interpreting interviews from diverse fields, including African history, anthropology, the history of science, folklore, and journalism. Your main product in this course will be a thoroughly researched, professionally conducted and transcribed oral-history interview, with an interpretive companion essay.
150.714 Biomedicine in the Twentieth Century (Comfort, Todes, Greene)
This seminar-style course is intended for students in the basic sciences and in the history of science and medicine. We will study classic experiments in twentieth- century physiology, immunology, genetics, and neuroscience using both original research papers and historians' accounts. Themes under discussion will include theory and experiment, styles of research, ethics of experimental work and scientific publishing, and the impact of social interactions on laboratory work.
150.715 History of Health and Development in Africa (Packard)
This course will examine the impact of colonial and post-colonial development on patterns of sickness, health, and health care in Africa. It will also focus on African responses to changing patterns of health care and disease. Topics include: patterns of disease and therapeutic responses in pre-colonial Africa; colonial epidemics; industrialization, urbanization, and disease; agrarian transformations, malnutrition, and the political economy of famine; sexuality, colonial control, and disease; western medicine and the social construction of African identities; African reproductive health and family planning; recession, debt, and Africa's health care crises; histories of AIDS in Africa.
150.716 History of Chinese Medicine (Hanson)
How did the Chinese conceptualize the human body, health and disease over the past 2,000 years? What were the range of responses from religious to therapeutic to disease in China? What are Chinese acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbal medicine? Who practiced medicine in China; what did they practice; and how do we know what we know about them? Students will engage these and other questions by discussing the latest historical, anthropological, and philosophical scholarship on the history of medicine in China. Students will be expected to attend the lectures of AS140.346, read relevant primary sources in Chinese, and write a research paper using Chinese sources.
150.718 Analogy and Metaphor in Science and Medicine (Todes)
How do metaphors in science, technology, and medicine originate and how do they influence human thought? The course explores such examples as William Harvey's analogy between the heart and a pump, Charles Darwin's concepts of the struggle for existence and natural selection, military metaphors in the history of public health, the use of metaphors of production in medicine, and the comparison of the brain to a computer.
150.718 Colonial Knowledge (Packard, Fissell)
Our seminar explores the various forms of knowledge production, consumption, and circulation that characterize Europe�s colonial expansion. It will examine various forms of knowledge production and use within European colonial settings in different parts of the globe. Among the topics covered will be: the interplay between local knowledges and global or imperial ones; museums and botanical gardens as expressions of imperial power; the connections between imperial power and ideas and practices of the body; the role of colonial science in the formulation of ideas about race and difference; the concept of the subaltern and its use for historians; how natural objects get re-framed in changing cultural contexts; the development of global networks of scientific knowledge and expertise; and finally, more recent forms of colonial knowledge production, including the collection and commoditization of Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK)
150.813 Medicine and Science in History: An Introduction to Historiography (Hanson & Pomata)
Discussion of historiographical developments in, and various approaches� to History of Medicine based on readings of important secondary works.
221.605 History of International Health and Development (Packard)
The course examines the history of western efforts to promote health and nutrition in the "developing world" from the beginnings of tropical medicine and colonial health services to more recent efforts at disease eradication, the development of alternative health delivery systems (basic health services, primary health care and selective primary health care); population programs, to child survival and global immunization programs. It will also examine the history of various international health and development organizations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank.
550.605: The History of Modern Public Health (Mooney)
Provides a broad outline of the historical context and development of public health.