Galen in Early Modern English Medicine: Case-studies in History, Pharmacology and Surgery 1618-1794
Jarman, Lisa Charlotte
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis examines the influence of Galen (b. 129 AD) on medicine in England between 1618 and 1794, approaching the study of his authority and the use of his work through three case-studies: histories of medicine, pharmacology, and surgery. The histories of medicine illustrate the variety of ways in which Galen is referred to, both as a historical figure, and as an ongoing contemporary influence. His importance in terms of accessing the knowledge of the ancients, and as a fixed point in time around which to discuss the history of medicine, and to situate other practitioners over a broad time period, underlines the significance of his role within medicine. Similarly, the pharmacological texts examined provide a more tangible sense of the influence of Galen, and their varied, but formulaic structures enable specific remedies to be traced over time and their corresponding associations and details compared between different editions. Identifying the role of Galen within surgical treatises also allows for a more theoretical aspect of surgery to be explored, providing a different perspective on an area more frequently portrayed as a manual art. The use of Galenic texts within each case-study, in particular the histories of medicine, demonstrates a significant and nuanced engagement with the content of his works, reiterating the importance of his contribution, and showing the value ascribed to the simplicity offered by past approaches. It is evident that a shift had occurred from the acceptance of ancient authority based on convention, to evaluating the simplicity and utility of information on an individual basis. The value ascribed to utility in the assessment of medical knowledge is evident throughout these texts, which also demonstrate the importance of the experience and observations of the practitioner in facilitating the ongoing and significant use of the influence of Galen.
The Wellcome Trust through a Strategic Award held by the Centre for Medical History
PhD in Medical History