Graduate Program Course Descriptions
This is a selection of courses offered by History of Medicine faculty. Click on a course title to see the syllabus
140.629 Beyond the Panopticon: Observing, Representing and Managing People (Marks, 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.
150.701 History of Medicine: Antiquity to the Scientific Revolution (Pomata)
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 Outline of the History of Medicine, 18th-20th Centuries (Marks)
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)
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.
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".
150.706 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 (Marks, 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 is intended as a practical introduction to oral history. The overarching goal of the course is to provide you with some sense of professionalism as an oral-historian. We will read a little of the history of the field, some theory and techniques, and some models of how to use interviews in historical writing. The emphasis, though, will be on practice. Your main product in this course will be a thoroughly researched and professionally conducted and transcribed oral-history interview.
150.714 Biomedicine in the Twentieth Century (Comfort, Todes)
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. This course will appeal to any science students interested in understanding the origins of biomedicine and in exploring what makes biomedicine unique in the history of science and medicine.
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.
550.605: The History of Modern Public Health (Mooney)
Provides a broad outline of the historical context and development of public health.
The following graduate courses are representative of courses taught by the History of Science and Technology Department in the past three years. Apart from "core" courses attached to examination requirements, the seminars will vary from year to year, depending on faculty as well as student interests.
140.601 History of Science, Medicine, and Technology: Methods, Approaches, Perspectives (Faculty rotate)
Taught in the fall semester each year. Introduces students to the interpretation of historical evidence; to the social, intellectual, and political analysis of historical data; and to contemporary methods in the history of science, medicine, and technology. Co-listed as 150.803, in School of Medicine.
140.611-612 Seminar in the History of the Physical Sciences (Kargon, Principe)
Seminar may be offered in either semester. Content varies. Key developments in early modern and modern physical sciences.
140.613-614 Seminar in the History of Technology (Leslie)
Seminar may be offered in either semester. Content varies. Key developments in history of technology.
140.615-616 Seminar in the Social Relations of Science (Staff)
Offered in either semester, this seminar focuses on the social context of science.
140.617-618 Seminar in the History of Biological Sciences (Kingsland)
Seminar may be offered in either semester. Content varies. Key developments in modern life sciences, 19th-20th centuries. Students expected to do research projects.
140.656 Science in the American Century (Kargon, Kingsland, Leslie)
Examines transformation of science after World War II in comparative perspective. Students expected to do a research project.
140.626 Advanced Seminar in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology (Staff)
Seminar primarily for senior graduate students and visiting students, for presentation of research, discussion of teaching methods, and discussion of recent literature in the field.
AS 140.708 Rise of Modern Science (S. Kingsland)
Seminar on major scientific developments from 18th to 20th centuries. Students expected to attend lectures for the undergraduate course of the same name. Part of core requirements to prepare students for second half of the comprehensive examination given in May.
140.710 The Scientific Revolution (L. Principe/M. Portuondo)
A survey of early modern science, concentrating on the 16th and 17th centuries. Topics include cosmology, astronomy, mechanics, natural history, and chemistry. Part of core requirements to prepare students for the first half of the comprehensive examination given in December.
140.713 Science and Exploration (M. Portuondo)
Scientific theories and practices in the context of exploration, early modern period to the present. Seminar is organized around student-led presentations on specific explorations and scientific studies.