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Level 6

6AAH3037/38 Twentieth-Century Medicine, State and Society in the United States and United Kingdom

Credit value: 60 (or optional 30 credits only for combined honours students)
Module convenor/tutor (2018/19): Dr Caitjan Gainty
Teaching patter
n: 20 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please check module list
Assessment: 1 x 3-hour examination (30 credits), 1 x 10,000 word dissertation (30 credits - optional module for combined honours students).

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

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 will explore the 20thcentury history -- including the meaning, organization, practices, and significance -- of medicine, its practices, its politics, its cultural status in the US and UK. It will examine the role of influential individuals, organizations, and other political actors in the construction of health care systems in each of the two nations in particular; it will also look to other factors in order to help explore this history: including the nature and meaning of citizenship, of war, of health, of statehood, of public and private, of individuality and responsibility, of rights, and of choice as these were manifested variously in the US and UK. Other key themes will be the century-long transition to “scientific” medicine, the perpetual and still ongoing indecision about what (and how and why) constitutes good health and effective medical practice, the significance of the relationship among doctor, patient and state, and the status of alternative practice as it developed alongside and often in tension with the standard medical establishment as we know it today. Students will be asked to consider the differences and similarities between medicine’s twentieth-century history primarily by looking at primary sources (and will thus need to consider both form – film, text, tv, radio, image – and content in their readings of these sources), they will also be encouraged to explore and synthesize the impact of these sources on late-century and early-21st century questions, about the status of medical care as a universal human right, about definitions of good health in an increasingly mobile and connected global population, and about the arguable disintegration of the state as the appropriate actor in the determination of where, when, how and why medicine is produced, practiced and theorized.

Suggested introductory reading

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

Bowker, Geoffrey and Susan Leigh Starr, Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences, (Cambridge, MA, 1999)

Crossman, V, & Lucey, S (eds.), Healthcare in Ireland and Britain 1850-1970: Voluntary, Regional and Comparative Perspectives (pp. 237-253), London: Institute of Historical Research (2015)

Fox, Daniel, Health Policies, Health Politics: the British and American Experience, 1911-1965, (Princeton, 1986)

Foucault, Michel, The Birth of the Clinic: Archaeology of Medical Perception, (New York, 1973)

Huisman, Frank and John Harley Warner, eds., Locating Medical History, (Baltimore, 1994)

Rose, Nikolas, The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power and Subjectivity, (2006)

Rosenberg, Charles, ed. Framing Disease, (Newark, 1992)

Starr, Paul, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, (New York, 1982)

Sundar Rajan, Kaushik, Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life, (Durham, 2006)

Webster, Charles, The National Health Service: A Political History, (Oxford 1998)

Additional Costs

  • Two copies of a printed and bound dissertation
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