Introduction to the History of Medicine

Course Description

This course introduces students to key themes and approaches in the history of medicine, healing, and public health. Topics include the history of disease, the history of therapeutics, and patients and healers. Each session presents the breadth of the historians’ craft. The course explores: a variety of approaches to the interpretation of primary and secondary sources; a range of analytic frameworks for the understanding of history; and different techniques for writing histories of scientific research, healing practices, facts, or technologies. The emphasis is on how these were not necessarily predestined, but instead produced in real time, by real people, with interests, wants, needs, motives, and limitations. Students will review the history of medicine and public health as a way of knowing based on empirical research, balancing primary and secondary sources.

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Course Learning Objectives

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe key themes in the history of medicine, healing, and public health
  2. Analyse primary and secondary historical sources
  3. Identify a range of techniques for writing about the history of medicine, healing, and public health
  4. Demonstrate the value of different analytic frameworks in the history of medicine, healing, and public health
Topics Include:
  • The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
  • Historical interpretations of the Black Death
  • What is Disease?
  • Patients and Healers
  • Therapeutics
  • Pain
  • Representations
  • Enumeration and Counting in Medicine and Public Health
Course Prerequisites

Introduction to Online Learning

Course Faculty

Mary Fissell, PhD and Graham Mooney, PhD  mfissell@jhu.edu  gmooney3@jhmi.edu