THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN MEDICINE
HISTORY G8733: SPRING 2001
PROFESSOR DAVID J. ROTHMAN
The seminar is designed to introduce graduate students in history and in public
health to the social history of medicine. The aim is to explore major themes,
approaches, and interpretations, with particular attention to the impact of culture
upon medicine and medicine upon culture. The focus is on the United States in the
19th and 20th century, with frequent references to European developments.
Requirements for the course include reading and intensive class discussions and
one seminar paper (due early April). Students will also be responsible for making
short, opening presentations.
Readings from primary sources and articles are on reserve in the History
Reading Room (4th floor, Fayerweather), and in Hammer Library (168th St). Both
places provide easy access to photocopy machines.
Books that have been ordered for the course are: Foucault, Birth of the Clinic;
Warner, The Therapeutic Perspective; Ludmerer, Learning to Heal; Leavitt, Brought
to Bed: Childbearing in America; and Rothman, Sheila, Living in the Shadow of
Death. They are available at the Columbia University Bookstore.
Students who wish background readings in the history of medicine may wish to
consult Robert P. Hudson, Disease and its Control: The Shaping of Modern Thought
or Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity.
The Porter volume contains a superb bibliography in the history of medicine.
THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF MEDICINE
1. WHAT CONSTITUTES THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF MEDICINE?
Gert Brieger, AHistory of Medicine,@ A Guide to the Culture of Science,
Technology, and Medicine , Paul Durbin, ed. New York, 1984.
Judith W. Leavitt, AMedicine in Context: A Review Essay of the History of
Medicine,@ American Historical Review, 1990.
David Rosner and Susan Reverby, AIntroduction,@ Health Care in America: