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June 4, 2002
9780801868979
English
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April 30, 2003
9780801876783
9780801868979
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Making Medicine Scientific

John Burdon Sanderson and the Culture of Victorian Science

In Victorian Britain scientific medicine encompassed an array of activities, from laboratory research and the use of medical technologies through the implementation of sanitary measures that drained canals and prevented the adulteration of milk and bread. Although most practitioners supported scientific medicine, controversies arose over where decisions should be made, in the laboratory or in the clinic, and by whom—medical practitioners or research scientists. In this study, Terrie Romano uses the life and eclectic career of Sir John Burdon Sanderson (1829-1905) to explore the Victorian campaign to make medicine scientific.

Sanderson, in many ways a prototypical Victorian, began his professional work as a medical practitioner and Medical Officer of Health in London, then became a pathologist and physiologist and eventually the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. His career illustrates the widespread support during this era for a medicine based on science. In Making Medicine Scientific, Romano argues this support was fueled by the optimism characteristic of the Victorian age, when the application of scientific methods to a range of social problems was expected to achieve progress. Dirt and disease as well as the material culture of experimentation —from frogs to photographs—represent the tangible context in which Sanderson lived and worked. Romano's detailed portrayal reveals a fascinating figure who embodied the untidy nature of the Victorian age's shift from an intellectual system rooted in religion to one based on science.

About the Author

Terrie M. Romano is working for the Canadian government. She is currently working on a history of carnivorous plants.

Reviews

"An important and highly readable life of John Burdon Sanderson... [including an] exquisitely textured account of his projects... Romano's beautifully written biography deftly integrates Burdon Sanderson and his chosen intellectual milieu."

- E. A. Heaman - Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

"A full-length study of this influential figure in British medical science has finally appeared... Libraries will surely want to add it to their holdings."

- L. Margaret Barnett, PhD - Journal of the American Medical Association

"Romano has performed a brilliant service for medical historians... a useful entry in the canon of science and public health, this little book is an antidote to the hubris of recent claims of accomplishment."

- Choice

"Making Medicine Scientific is a carefully researched and written work... It enlares our view of the power-struggle for autonomy over medicine by both doctors at the bedside and scientists in the laboratory and extends the picture of the relationship between science and medicine in the late nineteenth century."

- Stephanie Snow - Institute of Historical Research

Endorsements

"Romano treads a sensible line between an older literature which saw the rise of the science establishment within medicine as natural and positive, and a newer (equally partisan) interpretation which seeks to reduce science in nineteenth-century medicine to rhetoric and ideology."

- William F. Bynum, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College, London
Johns Hopkins University Press
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Hardback
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