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Gianna Pomata

Photo of Dr. Gianna Pomata

Professor of History of Medicine

Research Interests: Scientific empiricism; History of the body; Gender history; Womens history; Individualized medicine; Medical care narratives; Case histories; Doctor-patient relationship; Early modern European social and cultural history; History of medicine ...read more

Background

Dr. Gianna Pomata is a professor of history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She holds a joint appointment in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences’ Department of History of Science and Technology.

Educated and trained in Italy, Dr. Pomata has spent more than 25 years dividing her professional life as a historian between the U.S. and Europe. She joined the Hopkins faculty in 2007 after teaching for years at the Universities of Bologna and Minnesota.

Her research interests include early modern European social and cultural history, with a main focus on the history of medicine.

Dr. Pomata was awarded a 2014 National Library of Medicine’s prestigious Grant for Scholarly Works in Biomedicine and Health. The three-year grant will support her as she writes A Science of Individuals: the Case History in Pre-Modern European Medicine.

Dr. Pomata’s publications have included five books, many book chapters, and a number of scholarly articles. Her most recent book, which she edited and translated, is Oliva Sabuco de Nantes Barrera, The True Medicine, published in 2010.

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Titles

  • Professor of History of Medicine

Departments / Divisions

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Pomata’s research interests include early modern European social and cultural history, with a main focus on the history of medicine.

In 2014 Dr. Pomata was awarded a National Library of Medicine’s prestigious Grant for Scholarly Works in Biomedicine and Health. The three-year grant will fund her work as she writes the book A Science of Individuals: the Case History in Pre-Modern European Medicine.

The project combines Dr. Pomata’s long engagement with the history of the doctor-patient relationship with her more recent interest in individualized medicine.

In addition to writing on the early modern genre of historia and its significance in medicine and anatomy, she has contributed to the history of the healer-patient relationship by reconstructing the long-forgotten custom of contractual agreements between practitioners and patients.

Dr. Pomata also has studied concepts and rules of evidence as they developed at the intersection of early modern medicine and religion—the role of physicians in assessing miraculous evidence in canonization proceedings.

She has strong interests, as well, in women’s history, gender history, and the history of the body. She has contributed a number of essays on topics including women healers and women patients, the history of menstruation and lactation, concepts of sexual difference in early modern medicine, the cult of holy bodies, and relics.

Most recently, Dr. Pomata has worked on the history of scientific observation, with particular attention to medical case narratives and their role in the rise of scientific empiricism.

Selected Publications

  1. Pomata G. "Was there a Querelle des femmes in early modern medicine?" Arenal. Revista de Historia de las Mujeres, 20:3 (2013), 213-41.
  2. Pomata G. "Amateurs by Choice: Women and the Pursuit of independent Scholarship in Twentieth-Century Historical Writing." ("Beyond the Academy: Histories of Gender and Knowledge," special issue of Centaurus.) An International Journal of the History of Science and its Cultural Aspects, 55:2 (May 2013), 196-219.
  3. Pomata G. "A word of the Empirics: the ancient concept of observation and its recovery in early modern medicine." Ann Sci. 2011 Jan;68(1):1-25.
  4. Pomata G. "Sharing cases: the Observationes in early modern medicine." Early Sci Med. 2010;15(3):193-236.
  5. Pomata G. "Practicing between earth and heaven: women healers in seventeenth-century Bologna." Dynamis. 1999;19:119-43.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Courses and Syllabi

  • History of Medicine: Antiquity to the Scientific Revolution (140.105)
  • History of Medicine: Antiquity to the Scientific Revolution (150. 701)
  • Medicine for and by Women in Pre-Modern Europe (140.418)
  • Medicine and Science in History. A Survey of Historiography (co-taught with Marta Hanson) (150.813)
  • Individualized Medicine from Antiquity to the Genome Age (co-taught with Nathaniel Comfort) (140.425)

Activities & Honors

Honors

  • Grant for Scholarly Works in Biomedicine and Health, National Library of Medicine, 2014 - 2017
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