This course surveys the history of medical knowledge and practice from antiquity to the present. No prior background in the history of science or medicine is required. The course has two principal goals: (1) to give students a practical introduction to the fundamental questions and methods of the history of medicine, and (2) to foster a nuanced, critical understanding of medicine’s complex role in contemporary society.
The course takes a broadly chronological approach, blending the perspectives of the patient, the physician, and society as a whole—recognizing that medicine has always aspired to “treat” healthy people as well as the sick and infirm. Rather than history "from the top down" or "from the bottom up," this course sets its sights on history from the inside out. This means, first, that medical knowledge and practice is understood through the personal experiences of patients and caregivers. It also means that lectures and discussions will take the long-discredited knowledge and treatments of the past seriously, on their own terms, rather than judging them by today’s standards. Required readings consist largely of primary sources, from elite medical texts to patient diaries. Short research assignments will encourage students to adopt the perspectives of a range of actors in various historical eras.
attendance at and active participation in all class meetings;
completion of all assigned readings by the due date indicated on the syllabus;
one in-class midterm exam;
three short research and writing assignments (4-6 pages each);
Books and Coursepack
Three books are available for purchase at the Penn Book Center,130 South 34th Street:
David Rothman, Steven Marcus, and Stephanie Kiceluk, eds., Medicine and Western Civilization
John Harley Warner and Janet Tighe, eds., Major Problems in the History of American Medicine and Public Health
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale Note: All required books owned by the Penn library will be on reserve at Rosengarten Reserve Service in Van Pelt Library. You are not required to buy any book, and you can certainly find these books elsewhere. If you choose to buy one or more books, please consider supporting the vital service that independent bookstores provide by buying them at the Penn Book Center. Finally, several recommended (not required) books may be available under this course number at the Penn Book Center. Make your purchasing decisions carefully.
A coursepack consisting of assigned readings is available at Campus Copy, 3907 Walnut Street. Other course materials and additional resources are also available on a Blackboard site <http://courseweb.library.upenn.edu>.
Attendance + Participation: 30%
Writing Assignments (10% each) 30%
Midterm Exam: 15%
Final Exam: 25%
Consistent effort and improvement will be weighted in final grading.
A general overview of grading standards:
A = outstanding, nearly flawless work; assignment(s) completed thoroughly; technically excellent; evidence of creativity and/or inspiration, deep contextual grasp of issues and connections among issues; and ability to synthesize individual elements into broader historical analysis.
B = good work; all aspects of assignment(s) completed thoroughly and competently; technically competent (though perhaps not perfect) in spelling, grammar, format, citations; presentation adequate; does not consistently show inspiration, creativity, deeper grasp of connections, interpretations, and/or synthesis among elements.
C = less than fully satisfactory work; assignment(s) not completed thoroughly or according to instructions; basic grasp of issues not always evident; more than occasional technical flaws.
D = basic work of course (or assignment) not done, little or no effort evident.
Academic dishonesty is one of the most serious offenses a student can commit. The College takes it extremely seriously, and so do this course's instructor and TAs. The College’s policy reads (in part) as follows:
Academic integrity is the core value of a university. It is only through the honest production and criticism of scholarship that we become educated and create knowledge. Admission to Penn signifies your entry into this community of scholars and your willingness to abide by our commonly agreed upon rules for the creation of knowledge.
Specifically, as members of this community, we are all expected to be honest about the nature of our academic work. Papers, examinations, oral reports, the results of laboratory experiments, and other academic assignments must be the product of individual endeavor, except when an instructor has specifically approved collaborative efforts. Multiple submissions of the same paper, except with the expressed approval of both instructors, are also unethical and a violation of academic integrity.
Academic work represents not only what we have learned about a subject but also how we have learned it. Therefore it is unethical and a violation of academic integrity to copy from the work of others or submit their work as one's own; all sources, including the sources of ideas, must be acknowledged and cited in ways appropriate to one's discipline. Electronic sources, such as found in the Internet or on the World Wide Web, must also be cited. These are the methods of scholars, adopted so that others may trace our footsteps, verify what we have learned, and build upon our work, and all members of the academic community are expected to meet these obligations of scholarship. There are many publications, such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (which has been placed in Rosengarten Reserve by the Honor Council), that provide information about methods of proper citation. When in doubt, cite.Failure to acknowledge sources is plagiarism, regardless of intention.
Schedule of Topics and Assigned Readings
[lecture topics subject to change]
M&WC = Medicine and Western Civilization
Major Problems = Major Problems in the History of American Medicine and Public Health