Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Medical Constructs of the Consumptive in Nineteenth-Century Scotland

Project: Research project

Project Details


Critical to understanding the medical and social reactions to the modern tuberculosis (TB) crisis is clarification of the past concepts about the disease. It is within historical context that contemporary western medical assumptions about TB and the tuberculous developed. To this end, the proposed research investigates medical discourse and clinicians practice surrounding TB in nineteenth-century Scotland, a setting formative to early TB control measures and the modern clinical understanding of the disease. During this period, as today, TB ranked among the most significant causes of death. In the face of rapidly evolving knowledge of this and other diseases, nineteenth-century medical theorists and practitioners throughout western Europe actively constructed and reconstructed their concepts of TB and its causes. The medical establishment of Scotland was influential in such constructions. Doctors the world over were trained in Scottish medical schools and clinics, yet no studies to date have examined Scottish medical practice in order to clarify the source and inherited substance of modern western medical constructs of TB. The proposed study will examine archival medical records and discourse within medical institutions to delineate medical concepts of TB and analogous conditions like consumption, particularly variation in such concepts with respect to different social categories of patients and changing knowledge about these diseases over time. In addition, the PI and co-PI will analyze the clinical indicators leading clinicians to diagnose TB and its analogues to identify what features defined TB and analogous conditions in medical practice within this context.
Effective start/end date7/1/0912/31/10


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $14,871.00


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