Abstract

Both medicine and the history of medicine have seen many changes in the last four decades. The way we tell the story of medical developments no longer concentrates on the important doctors and their ideas. The influences of social history in the 1960s and 1970s and cultural history in the 1980s and 1990s have broadened and enriched the interpretations of our medical past. The social historians have helped us to include politics, economics, and the leading ideas of any period we wanted to study; the cultural approach has added ethnography as well as an emphasis on language or discourse.Today there is a new history of medicine, one far more willing to cross disciplinary boundaries to ask questions about how we know what we know and why we do what we do.This article highlights some of the work in the adjoining fields of medical anthropology and of literature and medicine to demonstrate new interests, new questions, and new methods of inquiry. However, although we have cast our nets far more widely in the process of professionalizing the history of medicine, there is a question about whether we have lost the appeal to one of our core constituencies: medical students and physicians. We need to welcome some of the new changes in medical history as in medicine itself; the common goal is to achieve a better understanding of what we have done and what we are doing.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 402-421
Launched on MUSE
2004-07-09
Open Access
No
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