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Level 5

5AAH1030 Health and Healing in the Medieval World

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Dionysios Stathakopoulos
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 1,500 word formative essay, 1 x 3,000 word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Prerequisites: Previous knowledge of medicine or medical history is not required.

N.B. This module cannot be taken in conjunction with 5AAH3006 due to overlap of content.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years 

This module provides an introduction to the history of medicine and health in the middle ages. Based on a wide range of translated texts that will be supplied we will examine the period from around 300 to 1500 CE by exploring a number of key aspects: the plurality of medical theories and the role of the ancient medical tradition; perceptions of the body and how it could be healed; the transfer of ancient knowledge through translations; the intersection of medicine and religion and the invention of the Christian hospital; the outbreak of plagues and the limits of medieval medicine; the formation and social status of physicians and the role of women in healing.

Suggested Introductory Reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

Nancy Siraisi, Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine: An Introduction to Knowledge and Practice (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1990).   

Roy Porter, 'The Greatest Benefit to Mankind': A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (1997).

Dimitri Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ’Abbasid Society (New York: Routledge, 1998). 

Mark Jackson, ed. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (Oxford: OUP, 2011)

Peter Pormann & Emilie Savage-Smith, Medieval Islamic Medicine [New Islamic Surveys Series] (Edinburgh University Press 2007).

Owsei Temkin, Galenism: Rise and Decline of a Medical Philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1973). 

——, Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians (Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1991).

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