Preprint Articles

Itineraries and Transformations: John of Burgundy’s Plague Treatise

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Posted: 
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Summary: 

As one of the most popular medieval plague treatises produced during the Second Plague Pandemic, John of Burgundy’s tract offers an excellent example of how medical books changed over time and place: in their material formats (such as manuscript to print), their textual contents and meanings, the people involved in their production, their readership, and sometimes even their purpose. The seemingly formulaic structure and medical contents of plague tracts has contributed to a long-standing perception that they were largely static or even ahistorical, one treatise easily exchanged for another. However, by examining copies of the treatise as individual and unique productions, rather than simply seeing the apparent uniformity of a few exemplars (or even the entire genre), we can begin to trace the itineraries through which they traveled and the rich tapestries of change that mark their life stories.

“Visceral Consciousness”: The Gut-Brain Axis in Sleep and Sleeplessness in Britain and America, 1850–1914

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Posted: 
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
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Sleeplessness was a quotidian yet challenging problem for medical practitioners in Britain and America in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While physiologists endeavored to unravel the secrets of sleep by examining the brain, in the clinic doctors looked to the gut as a site through which sleeplessness was both caused and cured. This article explores the gut-brain axis in medical literature on sleep and sleep loss in this period. It argues that despite the lack of a coherent understanding of the gut-brain connection, the digestive system was central to how physiologists and clinicians approached sleeplessness. It employs Victorian physician Joseph Mortimer Granville’s (1833–1900) concept of “visceral consciousness” to better understand the varied and often contradictory explanatory constellations that emerged to elucidate the role of digestion in sleeplessness.

Embracing Allied Approaches to Public Health: Luxembourg’s Industrial Elites and the Rockefeller Mission against Tuberculosis in France after the First World War

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Posted: 
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
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The Rockefeller Commission for the Prevention of Tuberculosis in France played a key role in public health reforms in post–World War I France. In May 1920, one of the commission’s traveling units whose goal was to bring health education to the French departments toured the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. This article discusses this ten-day campaign as a trigger for comprehensive public health reforms in Luxembourg. By the 1920s the steel industry had become the country’s dominant economic sector, with the conglomerate Arbed as the main employer in constant need of a healthy workforce. A group of Luxembourgian anti-tuberculosis activists, spearheaded by the wife of the country’s foremost industrialist, tried to benefit from the Rockefeller projects in France. Throughout the following decades, Luxembourgian anti-tuberculosis activists maintained close contacts with French experts. This article traces the transnational circulation of public health knowledge in the interwar period and elucidates Luxembourg’s geostrategic repositioning after World War I.

Intimate Connections: Marie Marguerite Biheron and Her “Little Boudoir”

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021
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This essay considers the pursuits and occupational trajectory of the Parisian anatomical modeler Marie Marguerite Biheron (1719–95), who was celebrated for her anatomical cabinet. It highlights the role of Biheron’s circle of friends and supporters in nourishing her place in the anatomical world. I argue that a focus on social and affective relations, such as friendship, can enhance our understanding of the careers of female medical practitioners and medical artists like Biheron. Her case provides a useful vantage point to reconstruct how a woman, who could not rely on the support of her family nor, for most of her life, on royal patronage, could successfully engage in anatomical practice and become renowned. Casting further light on early modern economies of care, Biheron’s story also helps illuminate the broader significance of amicable and affective relations in the histories of medicine and natural inquiry.